13 Facts You Need to Know About Metastatic Breast Cancer

11-12-2015 10:09 AM

Editor's note: This article is dedicated to Mary Ann LeRay and Beth Fairchild. Read their inspiring story. Also big thanks to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network for providing this information.

1.   Metastasis occurs when cancerous cells travel to a vital organ and that is what threatens life.

2.   Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body, typically the bones, liver, lungs and brain.

3.   An estimated 155,000 Americans currently live with metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.

4.   Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is lifelong and focuses on control of the disease and quality of life.

5.   About 6 percent to 10 percent of people are Stage IV from their initial diagnosis.

6.   Early detection does not guarantee a cure. Metastatic breast cancer can occur 5, 10 or 15 years after a person's original diagnosis -- even after having successful checkups and annual mammograms.

7.   Twenty percent to 30 percent of people initially diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will develop metastatic breast cancer.

8.   Young people, as well as men, can be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

9.   Like early stage breast cancer, there are different types of metastatic breast cancer.

10.   Treatment choices are guided by breast cancer type, location and extent of metastasis in the body, previous treatments and other factors.

11.   Metastatic breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence. Although most people will ultimately die of their disease, some can live for many years.

12.   There are no definitive prognostic statistics for metastatic breast cancer. Every patient and their disease is unique.

13. To access resources specifically for people living with metastatic breast cancer and their caregivers, visit www.mbcn.org.

Stacy Graves is contributing editor of The Mary Kay Foundation℠ blog and loves every minute of it! She has an aunt and cousin who are breast cancer survivors. She's also an active school volunteer and mom of two boys. You can connect with her at stacy.graves@me.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest.