Breast Cancer & Cosmetic Surgery | D B Ghosh

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Diagnosing Techniques and Risk Factors of Metastatic Breast Cancer

As part of your health journey, it is essential to understand how we diagnose metastatic breast cancer and the factors that contribute to its development. This blog from a renowned London breast surgeon, means you are well-informed. Let’s delve into the diagnosing techniques and risk factors associated with metastatic breast cancer.

Diagnosing metastatic breast cancer

Diagnosing metastatic breast cancer involves a thorough process to determine the presence and extent of cancer spread accurately. Here’s what you can expect:

Physical examination:

During your initial assessment, we’ll carefully examine you for any signs or symptoms that may indicate metastatic breast cancer. A physical examination includes checking for swollen lymph nodes, neurological changes, and any bone pain you may be experiencing.

Medical history:

Your medical history is vital in understanding your journey so far, including any previous breast cancer treatments and any new symptoms you’re experiencing. Your medical history helps us tailor the diagnostic approach to your specific needs.

Imaging tests:

Utilising advanced imaging techniques allows us to identify areas of cancer spread within your body. These may include X-rays to detect bone metastasis, CT scans for cross-sectional images of tissues and organs, PET scans to detect metabolic activity indicative of cancerous tissues, and bone scans to identify potential areas of bone metastasis. For detailed images of soft tissue (for example, the brain or the liver), we use MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

Laboratory tests:

Blood tests play an important role in assessing your overall health and identifying specific markers that indicate the presence of cancer or any renal dysfunction. These tests include liver function tests, complete blood count, kidney function tests, and tumour markers, which help us gather comprehensive information about your condition.


In some cases, we will recommend a biopsy. During this procedure, we will remove a small tissue sample from the suspected metastatic site, which we will examine under a microscope to detect the presence of cancer cells.

Risk factors of metastatic breast cancer:

Understanding the risk factors associated with metastatic breast cancer can empower you to take proactive steps towards your health. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Advanced stage at diagnosis: Diagnosing breast cancer at a later stage increases the risk of progression to metastatic breast cancer.
  • Tumour characteristics: Certain characteristics of primary breast tumours, such as lymph node involvement, larger tumour size, or aggressive biology, can elevate the likelihood of metastasis.
  • Incomplete treatment: Inadequate initial treatment may allow cancer cells to survive and lead to metastatic breast cancer later on.
  • Genetic factors: Inherited gene mutations can predispose individuals to metastatic breast cancer development.
  • Age: Compared to older women, younger women may have a slightly higher risk of developing metastatic breast cancer.
  • Hormone receptor status: Hormone receptor-negative breast cancer tends to be more aggressive and may pose a higher risk of metastasis.
    HER2 status: Breast cancers that overexpress the HER2 protein correlate with a higher risk of metastasis.

Your health is paramount, and if you notice any signs or symptoms indicative of metastatic breast cancer, it’s essential to seek prompt medical attention from our team. We provide same day test results as early detection and treatment significantly improve outcomes.

We’re here to support you every step of the way on your health journey. Remember, your well-being is our priority.

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