Shawn King lost his wife, Jennifer, to Metastatic breast cancer earlier this week. We welcomed him in to the studio, to share her story, and how the family will honor her, and continue her wish - To educate others about this type of cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer (also called stage IV or advanced breast cancer) is not a specific type of breast cancer. It's the most advanced stage of breast cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other organs in the body (most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain).

Although metastatic breast cancer has spread to another part of the body, it’s still breast cancer and treated as breast cancer.

For example, breast cancer that has spread to the bones is still breast cancer (not bone cancer). It may also be called metastatic breast cancer in the bones or bone metastases. It’s not the same as cancer that starts in the bone. It’s breast cancer cells that have invaded the bones. So, it's treated with breast cancer drugs, rather than treatments for cancer that began in the bones.

When can metastatic breast cancer occur?

Some women have metastatic breast cancer when first diagnosed with breast cancer (about 6 percent of diagnoses in the U.S.) [3]. This is called de novo metastatic breast cancer.

Most often, metastatic breast cancer arises years after a person has completed treatment for early or locally advanced breast cancer. This is sometimes called a distant recurrence.

The risk of metastatic breast cancer

It's not your fault you have metastatic breast cancer. You did nothing to cause it. It’s estimated that more than 154,000 people in the U.S. have metastatic breast cancer [1].

The risk of metastasis after breast cancer treatment varies from person to person. It depends greatly on:

  • The biology of the tumor (characteristics of the cancer cells)
  • The stage at the time of the original diagnosis
  • The treatments for the original cancer (trying to prevent breast cancer recurrence)


As hard as it is to hear, metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured today.

Unlike breast cancer that remains in the breast or nearby lymph nodes, you can't get rid of all the cancer that has spread to other organs.


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