Metastatic Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment, and Care

Metastatic breast cancer, also known as Stage IV breast cancer, is the stage of breast cancer at which secondary tumors, or metastases, have developed in other areas of the body. Metastases are caused by the disease spreading past the axillary lymph nodes and into other regions, most commonly the bones, liver, and lungs, though it can spread into the brain or other organs as well. It is important to try to detect breast cancer before it metastasizes, which is why men and women with symptoms of breast cancer, such as breast swelling or pain, skin irritation, nipple pain or inward curvature, or redness or scaliness, should check with a specialist for diagnosis.

While treatment may improve symptoms and shrink tumors to manage the condition, once breast cancer is metastatic it generally cannot be cured. Treatment options include:

  • Hormone therapy, such as palbociclib, letrozole, or tamoxifen, for patients who have hormone receptor-positive cancers
  • Chemotherapy for patients with immediate serious problems from cancer spread or hormone receptor-negative cancers
  • Radiation therapy for local treatments
  • Surgery for local treatments or to prevent or correct other issues resulting from cancer spread, such as bone fractures or a compressed spinal cord

Patients who have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer can visit Tampa General Hospital for the development of an individualized treatment plan. Our cancer team uses a multidisciplinary approach with cutting edge techniques to provide treatment and ongoing care for our patients. For a physician referral or to make an appointment, please call (813) 844-2200.