According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. – Metastatic breast cancer is also classified as Stage 4 breast cancer. The cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This usually includes the lungs, liver, bones or brain.
How does cancer spread, or metastasize?
The spread of cancer usually happens through one or more of the following steps:
- Cancer cells invade nearby healthy cells. When the healthy cell is taken over, it too can replicate more abnormal cells.
- Cancer cells penetrate into the circulatory or lymph system. Cancer cells travel through the walls of nearby lymph vessels or blood vessels.
- Migration through circulation. Cancer cells are carried by the lymph system and the bloodstream to other parts of the body.
- Cancer cells lodge in capillaries. Cancer cells stop moving as they are lodged in capillaries at a distant location and divide and migrate into the surrounding tissue.
- New small tumors grow. Cancer cells form small tumors at the new location (called micrometastases.)
The symptoms may vary, depending on how far your breast cancer has spread and what type of tissue the new cancer growth has invaded. All symptoms should be reported to your physician.
A true fighter – An MBC Thriver’s story
“When I was 41, a routine mammogram led to me being diagnosed with DCIS, Stage 0 breast cancer. I was shocked, I lived a healthy lifestyle and had no family history of breast cancer. After surgical treatment I was deemed cancer free. But four years later, a routine breast MRI revealed I again had cancer, metastatic, stage IV MBC. Stage IV is not curable and it is the only breast cancer women die from.
Looking at me, you’d never know it, but I’ve lived with metastatic breast cancer for the past 15 months. Thirty percent of patients diagnosed with an earlier stage of breast cancer will experience metastasis to stage IV. And 10% of all new MBC cases are “de novo,” meaning this is their first diagnosis. My cancer is incurable and fatal. Treatment slows the growth of my cancer but at some point cancer outsmarts that treatment. I will remain in treatment every day for the rest of my life. But research gives me hope. New
treatments are being developed that I hope will extend my life to see my two kids grow up.
Supporting the Pink Bow Campaign and Go Jen Go give me the opportunity to help people understand metastatic breast cancer while financially supporting those in treatment. Cancer is financially toxic even in the best of circumstances. Cancer treatment for life, no matter what that time amounts to, is emotionally and financially devastating.”
-Maggie, MBC Thriver
On October 13, National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, over 200 landmarks across all 50 U.S. states, as well as Canada, Hong Kong and Ireland, will light up in the MBC awareness colors of teal, green and pink, as part of the #LightUpMBC campaign. While pink has long been synonymous with early stage breast cancer awareness, pink alone does not resonate with the advanced stage MBC community. Designed and trademarked by METAvivor, the tri-color ribbon of teal, green and pink symbolizes hope, immortality, healing and spirituality. Some of the iconic participating locations include: One World Trade Center – NYC, The Leonard P. Zakim Memorial Bridge – MA, The Wheel at ICON Park – FL, Niagara Falls – CA/NY, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – OH, The Aloha Tower-HI and the Kilkenny Castle in Ireland.
#LightUpMBC Live, a virtual benefit, will begin at 9:00pm ET /6:00 PM PT on October 13. The event will include inspiring MBC stories from illuminated landmarks around the country. Viewers can live stream the event through the LiveOne app and platform, YouTube or Facebook Live @METAvivor and www.METAvivor.org/LightUpMBC.