• Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers

    Metastatic Breast Cancer Expertise

    Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Care

    Treating patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is a significant part of our practice at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Breast Oncology Program. Our doctors, nurses, nutritionists, research staff, social workers, and others provide continuous care, support, and assistance. We are committed to providing each patient with the best and most personalized treatment options available, taking advantage of the full range of services of a top-ranked cancer hospital and research center.

    About Metastatic Breast Cancer

    Metastatic (also referred to as advanced or stage IV) breast cancer occurs when cancer cells spread from the breast to other distant parts of the body. Common areas of metastatic breast cancer spread include the bones, brain, liver, and lungs.

    Although it is not curable, metastatic breast cancer can be treatable. In addition to offering standard therapies, our medical oncology team leads multiple clinical trials for each stage and subtype of breast cancer.

    Women with metastatic breast cancer can live with the condition for many years. Ultimately, however, metastatic breast cancer is a disease that can threaten a woman's life. At this time there is no treatment for metastatic breast cancer that can reliably eliminate the cancer. But our metastatic breast cancer experts work closely with patients to tailor treatment plans to try to extend survival and maintain quality of life.

    Dr. Eric Winer on Metastatic Breast Cancer

    Metastatic breast cancer is a stage of breast cancer that has moved to other parts of the body. Eric Winer, MD, director of Breast Oncology at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers, describes metastatic breast cancer symptoms, treatment options and prognosis.

     

    Compassionate Clinical Care, Comprehensive Support Services

    Dana-Farber's one and only focus is cancer. In the Breast Oncology Program, our one and only focus is breast cancer, including metastatic breast cancer. There is no "one size fits all" treatment for metastatic breast cancer — we create personalized treatment plans based on your individual needs and the type of your particular cancer.

    Our care team works closely with each patient, providing the resources and close cooperation of many specialists with expertise in diagnosing and treating breast cancer. Experts from medical oncology, surgical oncology, and radiation oncology coordinate your care to ensure that all feasible approaches to treatment will be considered, and that you will receive the combination of treatments that is best for you.

    Learn more about how we treat breast cancer.

    We provide active, continuous care to help you achieve the highest possible quality of life. We offer patient- and family-centered care, which means that you and your family are the focus of our attention. Your health care team will take the time to listen, understand your needs and preferences, and help give you a better sense of control over your life.

    In addition to medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists and nurses, your care team can include nutritionists, social workers, psychiatrists, exercise physiologists, integrative therapists (acupuncturists, massage therapists), and others.

    Learn more about our breast cancer support services.

    Clinical Trials for Metastatic Breast Cancer

    Because we recognize that metastatic breast cancer is not just a single disease, we personalize clinical trials to each patient's type of cancer and diagnosis, matching patients with the trial that is the most compelling and relevant for their kind of breast cancer. We are conducting multiple clinical trials to study the effect of new targeted drugs, particularly in patients with metastatic disease. Much of the research work performed at Dana-Farber has resulted in treatment breakthroughs and new standards of care for patients with metastatic disease.

    See our full list of clinical trials for metastatic breast cancer.

    Should you participate in a clinical trial?

    Participating in a clinical trial is a very personal decision, and a choice that is completely yours to make. If it feels right to you, there are several good reasons to participate:

    • Clinical trials are how we make progress against cancer.
    • Over the past decade, thanks to participating patients, a number of new drugs have been approved for treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
    • Taking part in a clinical trial can offer you new treatment options.
    • By participating in a clinical trial, you contribute to knowledge that can help future patients.

    Learn more about clinical trials and whether participating in a clinical trial is right for you.

    EMBRACE Study

    Ending Metastatic Breast Cancer for Everyone (EMBRACE) is a research study conducted at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This study began recruiting patients in 2009, with the aim of learning more about the biology of advanced breast cancer, as well as the treatment experiences of patients living with it.

    Each patient's progress is tracked by a study coordinator, and the information collected is used to help doctors understand more about the long-term journey of the metastatic breast cancer patients in this group. Investigators hope the study will bring them closer to finding a cure for this disease.

    The study also sponsors a metastatic breast cancer forum every year, as well as webcasts of topics relevant to patients with metastatic disease.

    The study is not sponsored by drug companies, and patients are not required to be on any drug trials.

    For more information on EMBRACE, please email embrace@partners.org.

    Contact Us

    To find out more about our metastatic breast cancer expertise and resources, please contact one of our nurses at 617-632-3478.

     
     
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    • For adults:
      877-442-3324 (877-442-DFCI)
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  • Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers

  • Intimacy and Sexuality

    • Sharon Bober Watch a webcast with Sharon Bober, PhD, Director of Dana-Farber’s Sexual Health Program, discussing intimacy and sexuality for women living with metastatic breast cancer.
  • Ask the Expert about Therapies for Breast Cancer

    • Harold Burstein, MD, PhD Erica Mayer, MD, MPHHarold Burstein, MD, PhD, and Erica Mayer, MD, MPH, medical oncologists and clinical investigators in the Breast Oncology Center at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancer, answer patients' questions about therapies for breast cancer.
  • Metastatic Breast Cancer Forum

    • This annual educational event for metastatic breast cancer patients and their family members is archived online in webcast form.
  • Find a Clinical Trial

  • Starting Chemotherapy: What to Expect

    • Starting Chemotherapy video screenshot Joanna, a Dana-Farber breast cancer patient, describes her initial fears about starting chemotherapy, and talks about what the actual experience was like.
  • Breast Cancer News

  • Health Library Resources