Advanced breast cancer is called metastatic breast cancer. This means that the breast cancer disease has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body, such as the liver, brain, skin, lungs or bones. Metastatic breast cancer is the most advanced stage of breast cancer, as the cancer continues to grow and multiply in the other areas of the body. Most commonly, advanced breast cancer spreads to the bone and then to the liver and the lungs.
Some common symptoms associated with advanced breast cancer include shortness of breath (possibly indicating lung metastases), appetite loss, weight loss (most likely related to liver metastases), headaches, neurological pains and weaknesses and bone pain (possibly a sign of bone metastases).
The aforementioned symptoms could be associated with advanced breast cancer, but also could indicate something else entirely. One or two of these symptoms does not necessarily indicate that someone has advanced metastatic breast cancer. Also, symptoms generally do not tend to show up until the disease is very extensive.
There are two different types of metastatic breast cancers. When the cancerous cells move from the breast area to the lymph nodes of the underarm, it is still considered "early" and curable metastasis. If the cancer has traveled further in the body it is referred to as "distant" metastatic breast cancer and far less treatable.
It is important to try to catch the advanced breast cancer as soon as possible, because in the "distant metastasis" stage of advanced breast cancer, it is considered to be uncurable. For treatment of distant metastatic breast cancer, the focus is on keeping the breast cancer from spreading out even further while trying to alleviate and soothe the side effects of the treatment process.
If you experience advanced breast cancer symptoms and discover that you have the condition, it is important to ask your doctor extensive questions regarding treatment, including questions regarding the exact location of the cancer in the body, whether your cancer would be responsive to traditional hormonal cancer treatment and also if the cancer has moved beyond the breast and lymph nodes.