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Sometimes, breast cancer spreads from the breast or armpit and begins to grow in distant parts of the body. This is called secondary breast cancer (also known as advanced or metastatic breast cancer).
Secondary breast cancer cannot be cured, but treatments can help to slow its progress, lower the chances of it spreading further (metastasising) and help relieve symptoms.
Your cancer specialist (oncologist), GP and other healthcare professionals are there to help you during this time. Everyone is different and you can control the amount of information you are given. If you need time to digest new information and to think about your options, let them know.
Support is also available from Breast Cancer Care on 0808 800 6000 and Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 0000. More information about living with secondary breast cancer can be found on Breast Cancer Care’s website.
Making decisions about your care
Each woman’s breast cancer responds differently to treatment and each woman will weigh up the pros and cons of having treatment differently. You may, for example, want to try everything possible. Your oncologist can let you know about the treatments for secondary breast cancer that may be options for you and can also explain any clinical trials of new treatments that you might wish to consider taking part in.
On the other hand, there may come a time when you feel you’ve had enough anti-cancer treatment and want to only receive treatments to relieve your symptoms and prevent complications and receive help with practical or emotional needs. Either way, your personal wellbeing is important. To help you decide, you may want to have discussions with healthcare professionals, your family and friends and/or a support organisation such as Breast Cancer Care.
Information last reviewed: 17 December 2012