Metastatic Breast Cancer Facts

What is Metastatic Breast Cancer?

Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that has moved from the breast to other organs in the body, that when attacked by cancer can threaten life.  Breast Cancer, most commonly moves to the brain, bone , liver or lungs and there is no cure.  The median survival rate for a metastatic breast cancer patient is 2-3 years upon diagnosis . Some people live longer with new medications being developed through research.

Facts About Metastatic Breast Cancer

  • Over 230,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States.(1)  
  • 5% of those individuals are diagnosed as Metastatic or Stage IV from the start.  Another 30% eventually progress from Stage 0,I, II and III to develop Stage IV(2)
  • In the US approximately 40,000(1) people die from Metastatic Breast Cancer each year.
  • It is estimated that in the US only 2-3% of all funding for breast cancer research is dedicated to Metastatic Breast Cancer(3), even though 30% of breast cancer cases become metastatic.

Sources 

1) The American Cancer Society

2)  National Cancer Institute 

3) European Cancer Journal

This is an Estimated Number...

The actual number of lives lost every year to metastatic breast cancer is likely much higher than 40,000 in the U.S.  Why?  The National SEERS database accounts for initial diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer.  However, for the people that are originally diagnosed with earlier stage breast cancer and then progress to metastatic breast cancer (20-30% of all patients) these are not counted in the death rates of metastatic patients!  

Most People Have Never Heard of Metastatic Breast Cancer

When someone dies of breast cancer, they die from metastatic breast cancer.  This is considered Stage IV breast cancer.  There is no cure and we believe that more funding to metastatic research will help extend lives and improve quality of life for Stage IV patients and their families!

Living Five Years After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis Does Not Mean You Are Cancer Free!

Many people get confused when they see statistics like "The Five-Year Survival Rate of Breast Cancer is 98%."  This is true.  However, people can and do develop metastatic breast cancer after 5 years.  In fact all breast cancer patients have a 20-30% chance of developing metastatic breast cancer and scientist do not know why.  There is currently no way to prevent metastasis.  

Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance

The Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance is led by patient advocates including people diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, and their caregivers. All Alliance members have an equal seat at the table and each contribute at least one staff member to our work. More than 50 experts from our members participate in either a Task Force or our Executive Group.