Courtesy of AstraZeneca
A story from MyMBCStory.com, a program brought to you by AstraZeneca
Being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), an advanced form of breast
cancer, can be an extremely frightening experience because it means that you will have
cancer for the rest of your life. However, through education and active management of
the disease many women are able to live full, productive lives.
Here are 10 facts all women should know about MBC to help educate themselves about
the disease and understand the journey for those living with MBC.
1. MBC is an advanced form of breast cancer that has spread to other parts of
Metastatic breast cancer, also known as stage IV breast cancer, is a form of
breast cancer that has spread to other areas of the body (eg, liver, lungs, kidney)
outside of the breast and/or lymph nodes near the breast.
While the cancer now resides in a different area of the body, the cancer cells still
retain the properties of breast cancer and have not developed into a new form of
2. MBC often appears after initial breast cancer treatment is complete
MBC typically occurs after an initial diagnosis with breast cancer, and may be
discovered months or years after the treatment of the original diagnosis was
completed. A number of tests (eg, scans or biopsies) are needed to confirm the
diagnosis, and they help to determine the pathology of the disease, which is
critical to identifying an optimal treatment plan.
3. MBC is still treated as regular breast cancer
When breast cancer cells spread to other areas of the body, they retain the
characteristics of breast cancer cells; they have not evolved into a new type of
cancer. Because of this, treatment and chances of remission are based on the
primary tumor type.
4. Approximately 175,000 women in the US have MBC
For the 175,000 American women living with MBC, every moment they have with
their loved ones is important. Hearing about others’ experiences living with MBC
also helps offer hope and comfort to those trying to manage the disease.
In response to consistent feedback that women with metastatic breast cancer
find strength in sharing their personal journeys with one another, AstraZeneca
created the MyMBCStory Facebook page to provide women the opportunity to
share their personal stories directly. Women living with metastatic breast cancer
and their loved ones are encouraged to share their stories of strength and
support with those on a similar journey using the hashtag #MBCStrength on Facebook.
5. Men can develop MBC too
MBC is not limited to just women. According to Cancer.org, approximately 2,300
cases of breast cancer each year are developed by men. Breast cancer in men
also has the potential to spread to other parts of the body. In addition, young
people of either gender can also develop MBC.
6. MBC is most likely to spread in the lungs, liver, brain and bones
When breast cancer cells spread to other areas of the body, they most often
appear in the lungs, liver, brain and bones. Other forms of cancer that are
metastatic are known to spread to other parts of the body besides these, but
metastatic breast cancer usually targets these four organs.
7. About 20-30 percent of women with early breast cancer will get MBC
As many as 30 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer will develop
MBC, according to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network. Despite the fact that
MBC affects thousands of women every year, many don’t understand the
difference between breast cancer and MBC.
You can help educate about MBC while inspiring others living with the disease.
Share your photos and stories illustrating your personal journey with MBC
through the #MBCStrength photo sharing campaign on Facebook and use
#MBCStrength. Learn more here: https://www.facebook.com/MyMBCStory
8. There is no cure for MBC, there is only treatment
MBC does not have a cure, and most people who develop the disease will need
to be treated for it throughout their entire life. This is why it’s so important to be
educated about the disease. This allows women living with MBC to work with
their medical team to actively manage their treatments and live full, productive
9. For 6-10 percent of people diagnosed with breast cancer, MBC is their
MBC is also referred to as stage IV or advanced breast cancer because it has
developed enough to spread to other parts of the body. Although only 6-10
percent of people are stage IV at the time of diagnosis, early stage breast cancer
can progress to stage IV throughout the life of the disease.
10. Approximately 40,000 people in the United States will die from MBC each
Since MBC is a form of cancer that you will live with for the remainder of your life,
many women die from the disease every year. However, by actively managing
the disease and their treatments, many people live full, productive lives.
You can help educate about the disease and provide inspiration for others living
with MBC by participating in the #MBCStrength photo sharing campaign on
Facebook and sharing your photos and stories illustrating your journey with MBC.
Learn more here: https://www.facebook.com/MyMBCStory
Reviewed July 13, 2015
By Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith