When breast cancer cells spread through the lymphatic system or blood vessels, they often take up residence in the bones, resulting in bone tumors, frequently called mets. The bone is a dynamic organ, constantly breaking down, building up and remodeling itself. This healthy cycle of growth is interrupted when cancer cells invade.
Today I saw my oncologist and got the results from my bone scan. My primary is breast cancer, and there are secondaries in the neck and under each arm. I already knew that there were some lesions on the spine, courtesy of the CT scan.
The bones are the most common place where metastatic breast cancer cells tend to go. For more than half of women who develop stage IV breast cancer, the bones are the first site of metastasis. 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.
This fact sheet is for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer that has been found in the bones. This information is a general guide. You should speak to your doctor for detailed information about your specific situation.
Metastasis is a complex process in which malignant cancer cells from the breast spread into other regions of the body. Once metastasis has occurred, it is much more difficult to effectively treat breast cancer. Sometimes metastasis has occurred at the time the original breast cancer is diagnosed.
Bone is the single most frequent site for bone metastasis in breast cancer patients. Patients with bone-only metastasis have a fairly good prognosis when compared with patients with visceral disease. Nevertheless, cancer-induced bone disease carries an important risk of developing skeletal related events that impact quality of life QoL.
Metastatic breast cancer also called stage IV or advanced breast cancer is not a specific type of breast cancer. It's the most advanced stage of breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other organs in the body most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain. For example, breast cancer that has spread to the bones is still breast cancer not bone cancer.
At the U-M Rogel Cancer Center, treatment of bone metastasis takes place in the clinic where the originating cancer is treated. For example, if prostate cancer has metastasized into the bone, it is treated in the Urologic Oncology Clinic. Call the Cancer AnswerLine at for help finding the clinic you need.