Skip directly to content
How different metastases cause different symptoms
Where has the cancer spread?

An important part of your diagnosis will be to find out where the cancer has spread – or where you may have metastases or “mets”. 

This will allow your oncology doctor to give you treatment specifically aimed at minimising the possible effects of those metastases.

For example, treatment can help strengthen your bones if cancer has spread to your bones.

It's important to talk to your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms - don't wait too long.

What are the sites and symptoms of different metastases?

With MBC, the most common sites for breast cancer metastases are the bones, the liver, the lungs, and the brainHowever, there is no set pattern for where breast cancer cells spread – every case is different.

Each of these types of metastases may lead to particular breast cancer symptoms, which are listed in the figure below. 

  • brain
  • lungs
  • liver
  • bones

    Symptoms will very much depend on which areas of your brain are affected by the cancer . Possible symptoms include: headache, nausea, exhaustion (fatigue), weakness, confusion, memory loss, speech problems, and seizures.

  • LUNG

    Sometimes breast cancer cells spread to one or both lungs through the blood or lymph system.

    Symptoms can include: breathlessness, cough, pain, and loss of appetite.


    If your breast cancer has spread to the liver, you may experience: pain, nausea, loss of appetite, hiccups, jaundice, exhaustion, and itchy skin.


    Bone metastases are the most common site of cancer-related pain and occur in approximately two-thirds of women with metastatic breast cancer.

    You may experience: pain, bone fractures as a result of bone weakening, spinal cord
    compression, anaemia, and exhaustion.

It's important to talk to your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms - don't wait too long.