The symptoms of secondary breast cancer vary depending on where the cancer has spread to.

Secondary breast cancer can affect different areas of the body in different women, so it’s difficult to give a single complete list of symptoms – the most common symptoms are listed below.

Try not to worry if you do notice any of the following symptoms, as many may be caused by other illnesses. But make sure you discuss them or any new, unexplained, persistent or worsening changes to your body with your doctor or breast care team as soon as possible.

Symptoms that breast cancer may have spread include:


  • Persistent pain in your bones, for example your ribs, hips or back
  • Breaks or fractures in your bones


  • Breathlessness
  • A persistent cough


  • Swelling or discomfort around your stomach
  • Jaundice (yellow skin)


  • Persistent headaches
  • Difficulty with your vision or speech
  • Difficulty coordinating your movements
  • Weakness or numbness in part of your body
  • Changes in your behaviour
  • Seizures (fits)

Other general symptoms to look out for:

  • Unexplained weight loss or poor appetite
  • Feeling sick
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling generally unwell

Information Standard

Information last reviewed: March 2019

Next review due: March 2022

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