What is it?

Secondary malignant neoplasm of breast (also called secondary breast cancer) is a term to describe a spread to another part of the body. This includes the lungs, brain, bones, or liver. Lymph nodes that are under the arm are no included. Secondary breast cancer cannot be cured, and the treatment is aimed to control it, relieve symptoms, and provide a decent quality of life for as long as possible.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Secondary breast cancer

Signs & symptoms

The symptoms depend on where in the body the cancer has spread to. Bones metastases may present in an orthopedic pain. if it has spread to a lung it may cause coughing, trouble breathing, or hemoptysis (spitting of blood). Some of the symptoms may be general – fatigue or weakness without a known reason.


Sometimes when cancer is first diagnosed, it may already be secondary cancer and the first symptoms may be of the metastasis. For women who have just been diagnosed with primary breast cancer, there are some tests to show if the cancer has already spreads to other parts of the body. For a sensitive and specific diagnosis, you may need one or some of the following tests: blood tests – they can't diagnosis secondary breast cancer, but they may show that you need further tests. Blood tests may show how well your kidneys, liver or bone marrow are working, check the level of calcium in your blood or level of tumor markers. Bone x-ray – if you have a painful area in your bones, an x-ray scan may use to check it. In case of fracture suspect without any known trauma, further scans may be needed. PET-CT – a combination of a CT scan, which takes a series of x-rays to build up a three-dimensional picture, and a positron emission tomography scan. The patients receive radioactive material (usually a radioactive glucose molecule - FDG) which connects to cells with fast metabolism such as cancer cells.


The treatment for secondary breast cancer is palliative, and will focus on relieving the symptoms. Surgical procedures are indicated to relieve pain and prevent complications.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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