Breast Cancer - Metastatic: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2020

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

The symptoms and signs that people with metastatic breast cancer may experience depend on where and how much the cancer has spread. Sometimes people with metastatic breast cancer do not have any of these changes. Or, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not cancer.

The following signs or symptoms should be discussed with a doctor.

Bone metastasis symptoms

  • Bone, back, neck, or joint pain

  • Bone fractures

  • Swelling

Brain metastasis symptoms

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Seizures

  • Dizziness

  • Confusion

  • Vision changes, such as double vision or loss of vision

  • Personality changes

  • Loss of balance

Lung metastasis symptoms

  • Shortness of breath

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Constant dry cough

Liver metastasis symptoms

  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, called “jaundice”

  • Itchy skin or rash

  • Pain or swelling in the belly

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea

Other symptoms and signs of metastasis

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you have been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If the doctor diagnoses metastatic breast cancer, relieving symptoms remains an important part of care and treatment. This may be called palliative care or supportive care. It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.