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‘Signs & Symptoms’ have been collated by patient experiences, not from a medical professional or source.

Secondary breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread from the breast to other parts of the body, for example to the bones, brain, liver, lungs, skin. Secondary breast cancer can also be referred to as metastatic, advanced, or stage 4 breast cancer. Many women diagnosed with secondary breast cancer have also received a primary breast cancer diagnosis. However, for some women a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer may be their first diagnosis of cancer. This is known as a de novo diagnosis.

For some women with breast cancer, the cancer cells break away from the cancer in the breast. The cancer cells then spread to other parts of the body. This could be via the blood vessels or the lymphatic system. They then form a new cancer deposit. This can happen before or after treatment for primary breast cancer. (The original cancer in the breast is called the primary cancer.) If breast cancer develops in another part of the body, it is known as a secondary breast cancer or a metastasis.

The cause of breast cancer to spread in some women and not in others, is unknown. If you have received a diagnosis and treatment for primary breast cancer, it is important to remain vigilant and be aware of the signs and symptoms of secondary breast cancer, and seek medical advice if you are concerned.

Currently Secondary breast cancer, Stage 4, metastatic, breast cancer is classed as Incurable as the cancer cells have travelled through the blood or lymphatic system. Therefore treatment is given to try and prolong life, relieve symptoms and keep the cancer cells “asleep” or slow them down.

However, there are new treatments being developed all of the time.

You might have seen your letters refer to “Palliative”, radiotherapy or Treatment. 

Palliative treatment/care is care for people with life limiting illnesses. It means care given to relieve symptoms, slow down the process of disease, it is not for curable intent. 

No. Hospice care can be accessed by anyone with an incurable illness. Hospice care can provide access to nursing and medical staff who can help with pain relief, symptom control and practical care.

Hospice care offers a holistic approach to care which includes emotional, spiritual, psychological and practical care.

Most hospices have access for patients and their families. They may have for example: complementary therapies, craft sessions and counselling on offer. 

Hospice care is available throughout your diagnosis. It is not just for end of life care.

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