What are the systemic treatments for metastatic breast cancer?

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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Marked advances are being made in the treatment of early-stage breast cancer, but many women still develop recurrence and metastasis. In addition, 5-10% of breast cancer patients have metastatic disease at presentation. Although treatments for metastatic breast cancer continue to improve, there remains no cure once distant metastases develop.

Furthermore, although occasional patients with metastatic breast cancer benefit from surgical resection for an isolated recurrence and many require radiation therapy for palliation at a specific site (or definitive treatment of brain metastasis), in general, recurrent or metastatic breast cancer must be approached systemically so that the therapeutic effect reaches all sites of disease. There are two main interventions: hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

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