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Breast cancer types

There are several different types of breast cancer. To determine an appropriate approach to treating the disease, your doctor will first evaluate the specifics of the breast tumor, including:

  • If the disease has spread beyond the breast
  • The type of tissue where the disease began

Metastatic breast cancer

Metastatic breast cancer, also known as stage IV or advanced breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread to other organs in the body. Metastases from breast cancer may be found in lymph nodes in the armpit, or they can travel anywhere in the body. Common sites include distant organs like the lung, liver, bone and brain. Even after an original tumor is removed, microscopic tumor cells may remain in the body, which allows the cancer to return and spread.

Patients may initially be diagnosed with metastatic disease, or they may develop metastases months or years after their initial treatment. The risk of breast cancer returning and metastasizing varies from person to person and depends greatly on the biology of the tumor and the stage at the time of the original diagnosis.

Treatment options for metastatic breast cancer

Treatment for metastatic breast cancer includes many of the same treatments as other stages of breast cancer:

 These treatments may be given alone or in combination. Learn more about advanced treatments for breast cancer.



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The many types of breast cancer

Infographic Types Breast Cancer

Breast cancer isn't just one disease, but many different diseases, all with their own behaviors, molecular compositions and side effects. Understanding the differences between the various subtypes may help demystify a complex disease.