Skip to Content. This is the first page of Cancer. Use the menu to see other pages. Think of that menu as a roadmap for this complete guide. Cancer begins when healthy cells change and grow out of control, forming a mass or sheet of cells called a tumor.
If your doctor has told you that your breast cancer has spread, you may be wondering what that means and where the cancer will go. Here an oncologist discusses where breast cancer is most likely to spread and how the type of breast cancer can play a role. Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. But what exactly does that mean and where can breast cancer cells go?
Metastatic breast cancer also called stage IV is breast cancer that has spread to another part of the body, most commonly the liver, brain, bones, or lungs. Cancer cells can break away from the original tumor in the breast and travel to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system, which is a large network of nodes and vessels that works to remove bacteria, viruses, and cellular waste products. Breast cancer can come back in another part of the body months or years after the original diagnosis and treatment.
In some cases, the cancer may have already spread by the time of initial diagnosis. Other times, the cancer may spread after the initial treatment. For example, a person who has been treated for early-stage breast cancer may later be diagnosed with recurrent local or regional breast cancer or metastatic breast cancer.