Sometimes, breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body. This does not always happen, but when it does, it is known as metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer is treated differently than localized breast cancer.
As a result, oncologists typically check for evidence of metastasis during the diagnostic/staging process. Additionally, breast cancer can spread after a patient has been diagnosed. To watch for potential signs of metastasis, patients are typically scheduled for frequent imaging scans during and after treatment.
How does breast cancer spread?
Breast cancer spreads when abnormal cells invade surrounding healthy tissues. In most cases, breast cancer first spreads to other parts of an affected breast, then to nearby lymph nodes. If cancerous cells make their way into the lymphatic system, they can then reach distant parts of the body.
The most common locations for metastatic breast tumors include the: