What are the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer?
Possible symptoms of metastatic breast cancer are listed below. Every woman’s experience of metastatic breast cancer is different. Symptoms depend on what part of the body is affected. They may develop over weeks or months.
It’s unlikely that a woman will have all of the symptoms listed below. Some symptoms may not be due to metastatic breast cancer at all.
- If breast cancer spreads to the bone
One of the first symptoms of cancer in the bone is usually a constant ache or pain in the bone. The pain can get worse during movement and can make it difficult to sleep at night.
- If breast cancer spreads to the liver
Symptoms of cancer in the liver include weight loss, tiredness and discomfort in the area of the liver (on the right side of the abdomen or tummy). Some women also feel sick or lose their appetite. Some women can develop jaundice. Some women develop a swollen abdomen because of a build up of fluid (ascites).
- If cancer spreads to the lungs
One of the first symptoms of cancer in the lungs is shortness of breath or a dry cough. Some women also have chest pain or a feeling of heaviness in the chest.
- If cancer spreads to the brain
Symptoms of cancer in the brain can include a headache that doesn’t go away, nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting. Headaches may be worse in the morning. Sometimes cancer in the brain causes changes in the part of the body controlled by that part of the brain. For example, an arm or leg might become weaker or your vision may become blurred. Cancer in the brain can also cause seizures (fits). In rare cases, cancer in the brain can cause confusion or a change in personality.
Find out more about:
- Managing physical changes for women with metastatic breast cancer
- Treatments for metastatic breast cancer
- Issues for women with metastatic breast cancer
Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) has a free resource for women with metastatic breast cancer called 'Hopes & Hurdles'. Visit BCNA for more information.