Metastatic Breast Cancer 

Research Saves Lives

Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is an advanced stage (stage IV) of breast cancer where tumor cells have spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, liver, lungs or brain. Most breast cancer deaths are a result of metastasis.

In the 1970s, only 10 percent of women survived five years after a diagnosis of MBC. Today, because of research and the discovery of new and more-effective treatments, this has increased to an average of 25 percent. While MBC is treatable, it is not currently curable. This is, in part, because we do not know what causes cancer cells to spread. Komen is dedicated to understanding why metastasis occurs and how to stop it, and has invested nearly half of new research funding for 2017 in metastatic breast cancer research.

In addition to funding research, Komen is founding member of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance- more than 40 organizations working to unify efforts to improve the lives and outcomes for those living with MBC.

Read how Komen-funded researcher Dr. Jay Degrossilier’s personal experience with breast cancer is shaping his fight against MBC in the lab.

Our Research Investment

More than $180 million in over 450 research grants and more than 40 clinical trials focused on MBC.

What We’re Investigating

  • Identifying the genes and processes that cause breast cancer cells to metastasize
  • Developing and testing new therapies to both prevent and treat metastatic breast
  • Discovering new methods for predicting or detecting metastasis using urine or blood tests or body scans

Read more about the development of Lymphoseek here in San Diego and how it is changing outcomes for breast cancer patients all over. Click here

Read more about circulating tumor cells (CTCs) as a biomarker and drug target for MBC in our Science Buzz series. Click here

What We’ve Learned from Komen-funded Research

Tilmanocept (Lymphoseek), a novel FDA approved imaging method, can be used to more-effectively detect whether breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.

A molecule that reduces the stiffness and density of breast tissue, by blocking formation of collagen fibers, may be used to prevent tumor cells from invading and metastasizing to other tissues.

The presence of certain types of circulating tumor cells may be used as a biomarker to predict who is at high risk for metastasis and may serve a drug target to prevent MBC.

For more information on metastatic breast cancer, click here