TDG

A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer can leave you speechless.

The right resources can help you find your voice.

TDG

Learn about subtypes, mutation status, and treatment options for metastatic breast cancer (mBC)icon, then create your own Treatment Discussion Guide that may help you engage in more meaningful discussions with your doctor.

Speaking Up With Your Doctor

It's important that you have a voice in the conversation when it comes to deciding on a treatment for your mBC. While your doctor knows what treatment options are appropriate from a medical perspective, you know best what's important to you. The first treatment that you have for mBC can influence the treatment options that come later, so it’s important to discuss your wishes and needs upfront. Your Treatment Discussion Guide can help with that. Working together, you and your doctor can come up with the most appropriate treatment plan for you, so join in the discussion sooner rather than later.

There are several factors that your doctor will consider when determining your treatment options, such as what subtype of mBC you have and whether or not you have a genetic mutation. Learn more about these factors on this site, then use our Treatment Discussion Guide to have a more open and informed conversation with your doctor.

MBC Terminology

Have a more active and informed conversation. Click below to learn important mBC-related terms you might want to discuss with your doctor.

Explore Glossary

Inspiring Conversations On WMBC Radio

 

WMBC Radio is dedicated to helping people really talk about mBC. It’s streaming radio that’s raising the level of conversation and sharing information and tools you need to find your voice. 

 

Listen To The ABC's Of MBC

ABC's Of MBC With Meredith Vieira

Join in intimate conversations with people living with metastatic breast cancer, doctors, and advocates, and hear firsthand about helpful information, inspiration, and support. 

Science Of MBC With Dr. Elizabeth Comen

Science Of MBC With Dr. Elizabeth Comen

Find information and insights as you listen to discussions between leading medical professionals and patient advocates around the latest in metastatic breast cancer research and treatment.

Education Is Power

The Importance Of Subtypes And Mutation Status

Metastatic breast cancer—sometimes called advanced or stage IV breast cancer—is when cancer cells have spread from the breast to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes, liver, lungs, or bones. When cancer cells have traveled away from the breast to other parts of the body, they are called metastases. Even though they are located outside of the breast, they are still considered breast cancer cells.

Breast cancer (metastatic or non-metastatic) has several different subtypes—for example, some subtypes can be influenced by the presence of hormones. Your specific subtype can help your doctor determine which treatments may be appropriate for you. If you aren’t sure what your metastatic breast cancer subtype is, ask your doctor at your next appointment. Subtypes can change over time; if you've had breast cancer before, your subtype now may not be the same as it was then. Because of this, your doctor might recommend another biopsy after being diagnosed with mBC.

Certain genetic and genomic mutations can also play a role in your treatment options, so it's a good idea to discuss the possibility of genetic testing with your doctor.

HORMONE RECEPTOR (HR) STATUS

Levels of hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, vary from person to person, but everyone has some amount, including women who have gone through menopause and men. If your cancer is hormone receptor positive (HR+)—sometimes called estrogen or progesterone receptor positive— hormones in your blood attach to receptors on the outside of breast cancer cells, causing the cancer cells to grow more quickly. If you’re hormone receptor negative (HR-), you have very few, or none, of these receptors in your cancer cells. If you have had breast cancer in the past, have your hormone receptor status retested because it may have changed.

HUMAN EPIDERMAL GROWTH FACTOR RECEPTOR 2 (HER2) STATUS

Everyone has HER2 genes that produce HER2 proteins to help healthy breast cells grow and divide. The HER2 gene makes HER2 proteins that sit on the outside of breast cells. If the HER2 genes don’t work correctly, they can make too many HER2 proteins and cause breast cells to become cancerous. If your cancer is HER2+, your breast cells have too many HER2 proteins. If breast cancer cells have a normal amount of HER2 proteins, the cancer is HER2-. If you have had breast cancer in the past, it is important to have your HER2 status retested because it may have changed.

MUTATION STATUS

Genetic and genomic mutations are changes in your DNA. Everyone’s DNA has changes that give people unique characteristics, but some changes are especially rare and some can be harmful. Genetic mutations, which can be hereditary, may be found in your cancer cells. These may be an important factor in determining which treatments your doctor recommends. If you’ve been tested for mutations that may provide information about your cancer, be sure to tell your doctor. If you’re uncertain whether you have mutations, talk to your doctor about testing as knowing could help your doctor with determining an appropriate treatment option for you.

Exploring Treatment Options

Every person is different and your doctor considers a number of factors when making a treatment recommendation. Working with your doctor is the best way to find the options that are most appropriate for you.

The treatment timeline below shows when each category of treatments was first approved. New therapies for breast cancer have been introduced in many of the categories since the years mentioned. Combination therapies are not represented in the timeline. Doctors may recommend one of these types of treatment or a combination.

Interact with the timeline to see how certain subtypes and mutation status can affect treatment options. Some combinations of subtypes that are important to know: HR+/HER2-, HR+/HER2+, HR-/HER2+, and HR-/HER2- (or more commonly known as triple negative). Keep in mind this is not a diagnostic tool. Only your doctor can determine the most appropriate course of treatment for you. Talk to your doctor about your treatment history since that might have an impact on your potential treatment options.

Select a subtype and/or mutation status to see how it highlights possible options. Click on any box in the timeline to learn more about that treatment class.*
HORMONE RECEPTOR STATUS
HER2 STATUS

Selected Subtypes

Mutations

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Surgery

Surgery

Surgery may be used to remove tumors in the breast or other parts of the body. It may also be used to treat symptoms and complications from metastatic breast cancer. 

Want to read more? Click the button below and scroll down to learn more about surgery. 

Learn More Here
1896

Radiation

Radiation

Radiation is sometimes used to treat tumors in the breast or other parts of the body.  High-energy X-rays or other types of radiation are used to destroy cancer cells or prevent them from growing.

Interested in learning more? Click the button below and scroll down to learn more about radiation therapy. 

Read More Here
1951

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs that may destroy cells or prevent their division. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, or infusion, or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

Interested in learning more? Click the button below to learn more about chemotherapy. 

Get More Info Here
1977

Endocrine (Hormonal) Therapy

Endocrine (Hormonal) Therapy

Some hormones can cause the growth of certain cancers. Endocrine therapy seeks to remove or block the action of those hormones. This is also called hormone or hormonal therapy.   

Want to read more? Click the button below to learn more about endocrine therapy.

Learn More Here
1998

HER2-targeted Therapy

HER2-targeted Therapy

The HER2 protein sends growth signals in cells. HER2-targeted therapies use different methods that may block the growth signals from the 
HER2 protein.

Interested in learning more? Click the button below and scroll down to learn more about HER2-targeted therapy.

Read More Here
2012

mTOR Inhibitors

mTOR Inhibitors

mTOR is a protein that helps cells divide and grow. mTOR inhibitors may block the mTOR protein. 

Want to learn more? Click the button below and scroll down to learn more about mTOR inhibitors.

Get More Info Here
2015

CDK4/6 Inhibitors

CDK4/6 Inhibitors

CDK4/6 proteins help cells divide and grow. CDK4/6 inhibitors may block CDK4/6 proteins.   

Want to learn more? Click the button below to learn more about CDK4/6 inhibitors.

Learn More Here
2018

PARP Inhibitors

PARP Inhibitors

PARP is a cell protein that repairs damage in cells to keep them alive. PARP inhibitors may block the PARP repair process.

Interested in learning more? Click the button below to learn more about PARP inhibitors.

Read More Here
2019

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy

Certain proteins prevent the body’s natural immune system from killing cancer cells. Immunotherapy may block those proteins.  

Want to learn more? Click the button below and scroll down to learn more about immunotherapy.

Get More Info Here
2019

PI3K Inhibitors

PI3K Inhibitors

PI3K is an enzyme that helps control the growth of cells. PI3K inhibitors may block the function of PI3K.

Interested in reading more? Click the button below to learn more about PI3K Inhibitors. 

Learn More Here

Clinical Trials

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that involve people so that doctors can find new ways to detect,  diagnose, treat or prevent cancer, and to manage cancer symptoms or treatment side effects.

Learn more about clinical trials for mBC.

Get More Info Here

Ready to join the conversation?

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Create Your Treatment Discussion Guide

Take a minute to answer a few questions and personalize your discussion guide. If you’d rather not customize your guide right now, you can download this ready-to-go guide instead. Take either with you to your next appointment to have a more informed conversation with your doctor.

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Your subtype is an important factor in considering which treatments could be options for you. If you aren’t sure what your subtype is, ask your doctor at your next appointment.

My Hormone Receptor Status Is
My HER2 Status Is
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Genetic mutations, which can be hereditary, may be found in your cells. These may be an important factor in determining which treatments your doctor recommends.

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Your doctor considers a number of factors when making a treatment recommendation, but make sure that they are aware of what’s most important to you. Consider the following treatment goals and select three that best align with your priorities.

Treatment Goals
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Prepare For Your Appointment

You can download your full Treatment Discussion Guide for a summary of your responses as well as helpful tips and questions to ask your doctor. Keep it on your phone or print it out and take it to your appointment to help you feel more prepared for the conversation.

Start Over
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Inspiring Voices

A metastatic breast cancer (mBC) diagnosis can make it hard to speak up for yourself, with your doctor, and with your loved ones. These stories of courage and perseverance may help inspire you to find your voice, and to start the conversation.

Teri’s Story

When it was time to share her diagnosis with her daughter, Teri found herself in uncharted waters.

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Jamil’s Story

Jamil was overwhelmed with questions and self-doubt, until she found her reasons to speak up.

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Felicia’s Story

MBC derailed Felicia’s world. Finding her voice and her quiet place got her back on track.

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Michael’s Story

Michael lived in fear of silence. Then he found his voice.

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We are grateful for the support of our partners and all they do for those with metastatic breast cancer.

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Click Below To Explore Work In Metastatic Breast Cancer
Being Done By These Leading Advocacy Organizations

Resources And Information

Information is power. Click on any of the links below from our partner organizations to discover additional resources curated specifically for women and men newly diagnosed with mBC.

Get Help With Understanding An MBC Diagnosis

An mBC diagnosis can feel like being on a roller coaster. Learn about coping tips and other information about living with mBC.

 

An mBC diagnosis can come with many questions. Click here to see answers to a wide range of common questions you may have if you are diagnosed with mBC.

 

Explaining metastatic breast cancer to your children might feel daunting. Learn how to start those conversations and how to answer questions they may have.

 

Planning For Treatment And Setting Treatment Goals

Learn about treatment and see treatment questions to ask your doctor.

 

Learn about who may be on your medical team and some topics to explore with them.

 

Learn about considerations for treatment and see questions to ask your doctor.

 

Learn more about clinical trials.

 

Having Open And Honest Discussions With Your Doctor And Health Care Team

Learn about an mBC diagnosis, taking charge of your treatment, second opinions, and advice from mBC patients.

 

See a video titled Balancing Act: Treatment Choices and Side Effects in Metastatic Breast Cancer.

 

View a webinar titled Difficult Conversations: Bridging the Communication Gap with Your Oncologist.

 

Building A Community Of Support

Being a caregiver to a loved one with mBC is a large responsibility. Learn about a community of support.

 

It’s important to know you’re not alone. Connect with an mBC peer or caregiver who's been there and may help or just be someone to talk to.

 

MBC can also affect men. Learn the facts.

 
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