Where Breast Cancer Can Spread
Feb 03, · The most common metastasis locations for breast cancer are the: bones; liver; lungs; brain; Metastatic breast cancer is considered advanced-stage mybajaguide.com: Annette Mcdermott. The most common site of distant breast cancer metastases, occurring in around 70% of people with metastatic breast cancer, is the bones. 7 ? The ones most commonly affected include: Spine Ribs Pelvis The long bones of the arms and legs.
The breasts contain large amounts of glandular tissue, organized into milk-producing lobules and milk-transporting ducts. The lobules and ducts form a complex tree-like structure that connects to the nipple.
Normal fluctuations in breast growth can change ste palpable consistency of the breasts during menstruation or pregnancy, but mkst sudden thickening of the breast tissue can indicate the presence of a severe underlying disorder. One possible cause of a noticeable thickening of breast tissue is inflammatory cancer, a rare but aggressive form of cancer. Patients with inflammatory breast cancer develop extensive cancer whatt that blocks the lymph vessels in the whaf.
These mos normally aid in the circulation of lymph fluid, and blocking these vessels during cancer development leads to a buildup of fluid within the affected breast. The result is an enlarged, red and inflamed breast that can feel sore to the touch. A study published in the journal Radiology in indicates that patients with inflammatory breast cancer also experience a thickening of the skin on the breast as well as a stiffening of tissue within the breast, leaving the breast feeling abnormally thick.
Once diagnosed, bdeast with inflammatory breast cancer typically receive aggressive cancer therapy, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and other drug therapies to treat the cancer. Another possible cause of breast thickening is lobular breast cancer, a form of cancer that first develops from cells within the milk-secreting glandular lobules.
Lobular breast cancer accounts for around one in 10 breast cancer cases, according to CancerHelp UK. Unlike some other forms of breast cancer that can present as a palpable lump in the breast, lobular breast cancer feels like a thickening of the breast tissue during cancer development. The thickening is localized in one area of the breast and grows as the cancer develops.
Lobular breast cancer is typically diagnosed during a mammogram or clinical examination and can be treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. A noncancerous cause of a thickening of the breast is a condition called fibrocystic breasts. Under normal conditions, the breasts undergo cycles of growth throughout menstruation, with the breast tissue growing and regressing during specific stages of the menstrual cycle.
Patients with fibrocystic breasts experience an exaggerated breast growth, leading to breast pain, formation of scar tissue and an abnormal thickness in the breasts. Imaginis indicates that fibrocystic breasts usually develop due to hormonal disorders, and treatment with hormone-related therapy can treat the disease. Milder cases of fibrocystic breasts may respond to painkiller medications to relieve the pain involved with abnormal breast growth.
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist.
Based in Ontario, Canada, Tremblay is an experienced journalist and blogger specializing in nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, health and biotechnology, as well as real estate, agriculture and clean tech.
Monitor the health of your community here. More Articles. Written by Sylvie Tremblay. Screening for familial cancer risk: Focus on breast cancer. Epub Aug 7. National Cancer Institute. Breast Cancer Risk in American Women. Updated October 3, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
Updated September 11, Breast Cancer How to get pseudoephedrine out of pills. Updated February 13, Rousset-Jablonski C, Gompel A.
Links between alcohol consumption and breast cancer: a look at the evidence. Womens Health Lond. Various types and management of breast cancer: an overview.
J Adv Pharm Technol Res. American Cancer Society. Updated September 20, Metastatic Breast Cancer Network. Incidence and Incidence Rates. How Is Breast Cancer Treated? McArthur H. Oncology Williston Park. Screening for Breast Cancer. Radiol Clin North Am.
Jun 20, · Although breast cancer can spread to any bone, the most common sites are the ribs, spine, pelvis, and long bones in the arms and legs. A sudden, noticeable new pain is the most common symptom of cancer that has spread to the bone. It may come and go at first, but over time it can become constant. Feb 05, · Ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer. This type of cancer forms in the lining of a milk duct within your breast. The ducts carry breast milk from the lobules, where it's made, to the nipple. The most common types are invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. Invasive ductal carcinoma makes up about % of all breast cancers. Special types of invasive breast cancers Some invasive breast cancers have special features or develop in different ways that affect their treatment and outlook.
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Measure content performance. Develop and improve products. List of Partners vendors. Breast cancer has one main intention—to spread. Often, the first stop is the lymph nodes.
And, as it advances, metastases can occur in distant parts of the body, some of the most common ones being the bones, lungs, liver, and brain. The areas to which breast cancer spreads, and the extent to which it does, are important as metastasis is responsible for most deaths from the disease. Doctors aren't certain why cancer recurs and spreads , or how it can appear to lie dormant for years and even decades and then recur.
Much research is being conducted to look at why metastases occur, as well as methods that might inhibit the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body.
The areas of the body to which breast cancer spreads vary. The most common sites include:. A study looked at the most common first site of metastases in women with early-stage breast cancer. Invasive lobular carcinoma tends to have a significantly different pattern of metastases than ductal breast cancer. For roughly a third of women and men, as men get breast cancer too , cancer spreads to multiple organs at the same time.
Breast cancer can spread through the lymphatic system, the bloodstream, or by local invasion—for instance, when cancer cells actually invade nearby tissues, such as the chest wall or ribs. When breast cancers spread and enter the lymphatic system, they usually first arrive at nearby lymph nodes and may still be early-stage. Metastatic breast cancer is the same thing as stage 4 breast cancer and is considered the most advanced stage. While treatment options for metastatic breast cancer are similar no matter where cancer has spread, some treatments are used for specific sites of metastasis as well see below.
When breast cancer spreads it is still breast cancer. If you were to take a sample of the cancerous tumor in these locations and look at it under the microscope, the appearance would be of cancerous breast cells, not bone, liver, or lung cells.
Three-fourths of breast cancer survivors diagnosed with stage I to III breast cancer are currently living with the metastatic disease. This may occur months, years, or even decades after the original tumor was detected and treated; some cancer cells can survive and lie dormant, waiting to grow at a later time.
A recurrence can be local at the original tumor site , regional lymph nodes , or distant other areas of the body. The spread of breast cancer to lymph nodes does not necessarily mean that it's metastatic, even though a pathology report may state "breast cancer metastatic to lymph nodes. Breast cancer reaching the lymph nodes is its declaration that it's working to spread further.
Metastasis to a limited number of sites is called oligometastasis. In these cases which may involve one or more of the below locations in the body , stereotactic body radiotherapy SBRT may be used in an attempt to destroy the metastasis completely.
SBRT, also known as Cyberknife or gamma knife, is a procedure in which high doses of radiation are delivered to a small and very precise area of tissue over several sessions. You may also hear this referred to as local ablation.
The treatment of oligometastases is a relatively new approach in oncology, and few studies had been done to evaluate the potential survival benefit. A study, however, looked at survival in people with a few different types of cancer who had local treatment for up to five metastases in the same region or different regions.
They found that treating these oligometastases significantly improved overall survival. Bone metastases tend to have a fairly good prognosis relative to metastases to some other regions of the body. While bone metastasis may cause pain, that is not always the case. Some people are unaware that they have bone metastasis until they suffer a fracture from what should've been a minor trauma. Fractures through a portion of a bone weakened by cancer metastasis are called pathologic fractures.
If not detected as the result of evaluating a fracture, breast cancer that has spread to the bones may be found on a routine scan done to look for such metastases when no symptoms are present or on scans that are done to evaluate symptoms.
Several types of treatment are available for bone metastases from breast cancer, and some of these can control the disease for quite some time. Breast cancer metastases to the liver are also very common.
Treating them is often complicated. Liver metastases may be present without any symptoms. Sometimes, liver metastases are suspected based on abnormal liver function tests. Liver metastases are often detected on tests such as a positron emission tomography PET scan. General treatments for metastatic cancer such as chemotherapy , hormonal therapies, and targeted therapies may decrease these metastases, but since the liver acts as the detoxification center of the body, treatments must be delicately balanced.
Sometimes, liver metastases reduce the ability to tolerate chemotherapy. Radiation therapy to the liver can decrease pain and may improve survival. At times, other local treatments may be used to treat liver metastases such as surgery, radioembolization, chemoembolization, radiofrequency ablation, or stereotactic body radiotherapy. Just as the blood is filtered by the liver, blood passes through the lungs, making this a common site of breast cancer metastasis.
The most common symptom of lung metastases is shortness of breath, which may be mild and only occur with exercise at first. Other symptoms can include a persistent cough or pain with breathing. Lung metastases may be suspected based on a scan, which often shows multiple small areas of metastases in contrast to lung cancer, for example, which is more likely to appear as a single large mass.
In addition to spreading to the lungs, metastatic breast cancer often causes pleural effusions—a build-up of fluid in the space between the membranes the pleura , which line the lungs. Pleural effusions occur not only when breast cancer spreads to the lungs, but with spread to the lymph nodes in the area between the lungs the mediastinum.
The fluid may be benign without cancer cells and related to inflammatory changes, or instead, contain cancer cells malignant pleural effusion. Lung metastases are often treated by the general treatments for metastatic breast cancer, but radiation therapy may be helpful, especially if the metastases cause an obstruction in the airways bronchi. If only a few metastases are present, treatment to eradicate these may be considered. Before treatment, however, it's important to make sure that a nodule in the lung is, indeed, due to breast cancer.
Primary lung cancer is treated differently than breast cancer that spreads to the lungs. Pleural effusions can be quite large and cause significant shortness of breath. The fluid is often removed by placing a needle through the chest wall and into the pleural cavity to drain the fluid.
Unfortunately, pleural effusions often recur. When this happens, a shunt may be placed, or pleurodesis recommended a procedure in which the layers of the pleura are scarred together so fluid cannot reaccumulate. Symptoms of brain metastases often include:. Other symptoms may include:. Not everyone with brain metastases has symptoms, though. Sometimes, they're only found because of imaging tests performed on the brain.
Unlike metastases to some other regions, treatments such as chemotherapy and targeted therapies are often ineffective against brain metastases due to the blood-brain barrier , which is a tight network of capillaries designed to protect the brain from toxins such as chemotherapy.
The treatment of metastases usually includes steroids to decrease swelling in the brain. Whole-brain radiation may be used to address the metastases, along with medication to reduce the risk of cognitive problems thereafter. Leptomeningeal Metastases.
Leptomeningeal metastases , also called carcinomatous meningitis, differ from brain metastases in that the cancer cells spread to the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. Since cancer cells float freely in the space between the leptomeninges the subarachnoid space , they have constant access to nutrition and don't usually form a discreet mass. Leptomeningeal metastases often occur late in the disease but are becoming more common as people live longer with metastatic cancer.
Treatment often involves injecting chemotherapy directly into this space intrathecal chemotherapy. Breast cancer can spread to nearly any region of the body. Some of the less common sites with the exception of lobular carcinoma of metastasis include:. When treating breast cancer that has metastasized to other parts of the body, the philosophy is usually to use the minimum amount of treatment needed in order to control the disease.
Treating the disease aggressively does not improve survival, but it does increase side effects and lessen the quality of life. Get honest information, the latest research, and support for you or a loved one with breast cancer right to your inbox. Incidence and patterns of distant metastases for patients with early-stage breast cancer after breast conservation treatment.
Clin Breast Cancer. Specific sites of metastases in invasive lobular carcinoma: a retrospective cohort study of metastatic breast cancer. Breast Cancer. Comparison of patterns and prognosis among distant metastatic breast cancer patients by age groups: a SEER population-based analysis. Sci Rep. American Cancer Society.
Updated April 21, Predictive factors for response and survival in a cohort of oligometastatic patients treated With stereotactic body radiation therapy.
Bone metastases: An overview. Oncol Rev.