When breast cancer has spread to other organs such as the brain, bones, lungs or liver, it’s called advanced (metastatic) cancer. Most often, metastatic cancer develops when cancer recurs, though a small percentage of women have advanced breast cancer when they’re first diagnosed. Though metastatic cancer typically can’t be cured, numerous factors affect the prognosis of advanced cancer, and more women are surviving longer thanks to improvements in treatment.

When facing a diagnosis for which remission is unlikely, you’ll have to weigh the side effects of continued treatments with the potential benefit they’ll provide. It may be helpful to reframe your treatment goals into improving quality of life and relieving symptoms.

Source: Special Report Supplement to Mayo Clinic Health Letter August 2016