Secondary breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
Currently it is not curable.
The disease occurs when cancer cells in the breast travel to other areas of the body via the body cavities, blood stream or lymph system. If the cells stay in a new part of the body, such as the liver, lung, bones or brain they can form a new tumour. This is called a ‘secondary tumour’ or just a ‘secondary’ and the tumour is made up of breast cancer cells. It can also be described as a metastatic tumour, or metastasis.
Approximately five in every 100 people with breast cancer already have secondaries when their first cancer in diagnosed. Doctors and researchers estimate that another 35 out of 100 people with primary breast cancer will develop secondary breast cancer within the first 10 years of the first diagnosis.
Further research, better awareness and treatment are critical because secondary breast cancer kills 1,000 women every month in Britain.