Secondary breast cancer varies from person to person and the treatments that you’ll receive will be tailored to you and your cancer.

Secondary breast cancer varies from person to person, depending in part on the characteristics of the cancer cells and where in your body the cancer is.

The treatments that you’ll receive will be tailored to you and your cancer. This means that two patients with secondary breast cancer may receive very different treatments.

Your treatment team will select your treatments carefully to extend your life as much as possible, while causing the least side effects. This is so that you can have the best quality of life possible.

Your treatment team should always listen to your views, preferences and questions, so that together you can choose the best options for your care.

Throughout your care, your treatment team will monitor your health and your tumours, so that your treatment can be adjusted or changed if necessary.

Watch our video to find out how secondary breast cancer is treated:

Which treatments might I have to control my cancer?

Treatments that can help to control the growth of secondaries and reduce their symptoms include:

Surgery and radiotherapy are not suitable for everyone.

What other treatments might I have to help with my symptoms?

You’re likely to have treatments to help to manage the symptoms of your cancer or to reduce the chance it will cause knock-on problems (complications). These may include:

What other treatment or support is available to improve my quality of life?

All anticancer drugs have some side effects, so you’re likely to need additional treatments to help manage these.

Your cancer may also cause symptoms that require treatment. A range of treatments can help to reduce side effects such as sickness and diarrhoea, infections, fatigue, anxiety and depression.

You might be offered wider support too, such as rehabilitation, counselling or spiritual support.

Together, these treatments are sometimes called palliative or supportive care. Some people wrongly assume that palliative care means the same thing as end-of-life care, but it does not.

You might receive palliative care right from the time of your diagnosis of secondary breast cancer, depending on what symptoms you have. It can help to keep you more active, more comfortable and able to enjoy life more.

You can learn more in our section on improving your quality of life

Watch nurse Claire Grainger talk about managing side effects of secondary breast cancer: 

Information Standard

Information last reviewed: October 2015

Next review due: October 2018

Breast Cancer Now's health information is covered by NHS England's Information Standard quality mark. Find out how this resource was developed.