A diagnosis of advanced breast cancer (ABC) essentially means the person will not be cured from the disease. The term usually refers to breast cancer that has spread outside the breast and metastasised.
Metastases occurs due to the cell detaching itself from the original tumour, travelling in the bloodstream and being deposited in another part of the body. Breast cancer usually metastasises to the bones, lungs, liver and brain. Some people are diagnosed with ABC on presentation of their initial breast cancer, although it is more usual for people to present with ABC sometime after their initial treatment.
The goal of treatment for those with ABC is to control the growth of the cancer and or to relieve symptoms caused by it. New and more effective treatments for breast cancer has resulted in this becoming a more chronic disease, and the number of those with ABC is increasing.1 To ensure women with ABC in the UK are properly supported, health professionals need to build awareness and understanding of the disease to overcome the barriers to optimal patient care.