Surviving & Thriving: What You Need to Know About Metastatic Breast Cancer

By: Victoria Mauriello, Spring 2019 Communications + Marketing Intern

Metastatic breast cancer is an advanced stage (IV) of breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body, most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain.

In the U.S., it’s estimated that at least 154,000 people are living with metastatic breast cancer. New and novel treatments continue to improve survival for many diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. However, survival varies greatly from person to person.

It’s estimated that 34 percent of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. have lived at least 5 years since their initial diagnosis. Some patients may live 10 or more years beyond diagnosis.

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While there is currently no cure for metastatic breast cancer, it can be treated. Treatment focuses on length and quality of life. Together with your doctor, you can figure out the best treatment plan for you. Your treatment plan is guided by many factors including:

  • Characteristics of the cancer cells
  • Where the cancer has spread
  • Your current symptoms
  • Past breast cancer treatments
  • Your age and general health

There is help for those diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. From helplines and financial assistance, to social support and counseling resources, Komen has the resources and guides to help improve a patient’s quality of life.

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Komen is committed to understanding why metastasis occurs and how to stop it. Susan G. Komen has invested more than $194 million in over 480 research grants and more than 50 clinical trials focused on metastatic breast cancer. Komen remains dedicated to investigating the following:

  • Identifying the genes and processes that cause breast cancer cells to metastasize
  • Developing and testing new therapies to both prevent and treat metastatic breast cancer
  • Discovering new methods for predicting risks of metastasis or detecting metastasis early using urine or blood tests or body scans

Through Komen-funded research, we have already learned so much about metastatic breast cancer. Komen has discovered that:

  • Tilmanocept, a novel FDA approved imaging method, can be used to more-effectively detect breast cancer
  • The FDA-approved Src kinase inhibitor stops stem-like cancer cells that are starting to spread and may be used to prevent metastasis from occurring or treat early metastatic breast cancer
  • The presence of certain types of circulating tumor cells may be used as a biomarker to predict who is at high risk for metastasis and may serve a drug target to prevent metastatic breast cancer

Through continued research grants and initiatives, Komen remains dedicated to ending metastatic breast cancer for good. We see this research being done right down the road by Komen Scholar Dr. Yibin Kang, who is considered an expert on the molecular mechanisms of metastatic breast cancer. Kang’s laboratory at Princeton University uses molecular biology and genomic tools to work towards discovering the root of why certain cancer cells become metastatic, or spread throughout the body.

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Looking for a place to connect with others affected by metastatic breast cancer? Join us at our first Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference.

Komen CSNJ’s Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference: Education, Empowerment and Support will bring together women and men living with metastatic breast cancer, family members, caregivers, and medical professionals to share relevant information, practical resources, and support.

Join us at The Event Center @iPA on Sunday, May 5 for breakfast, lunch, informative presentations from leading experts, fun activities, giveaways and more.

You will learn about emerging research, clinical trials, complementary therapies, optimizing your quality of life, and more while family members enjoy iPlay America’s indoor theme park.

All are welcome to attend this free event. Register now:

Komen CSNJ is here for you; you are not alone. For more information and resources, please visit our website at or call 1–877 GO KOMEN (1–877–465–6636).

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Our mission is to save lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent & cure breast cancer.

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