Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC), also called advanced breast cancer (ABC) and secondary breast cancer, means that the cancer has spread from where it started in the breast to other parts of the body.

  • Breast cancer claims the lives of more European women than any other cancer.1
  • Estimated number of women who died from breast cancer in 2018:
        In WHO Europe region 150,700
        EU-28 member states 98,735.2
  • Table. Estimated numbers and age-standardised breast cancer incidence and mortality rates* in women per 100,000 in 2018.3


    *Age-standardised rate (W): A rate is the number of new cases or deaths per 100,000 persons per year. An age-standardised rate is the rate that a population would have if it had a standard age structure. Standardization is necessary when comparing several populations that differ with respect to age because age has a powerful influence on the risk of cancer.

    **WHO Europe region includes 53 countries. Incidence data include all countries except for Andorra, Monaco and San Marino.

  • While there is no cure for MBC today, there are better treatments that can lead to a better quality of life and a longer extension of life.
  • Approximately 5–10% of breast cancers are metastatic at diagnosis.4
  • It is estimated that 20–30% of women diagnosed with early breast cancer will eventually progress to metastatic disease.5
  • Early breast cancer may lead to MBC regardless of the stage at which it is diagnosed or measures taken.




  1. J. Ferlay et al. Cancer Incidence and Mortality Patterns in Europe: Estimates for 40 countries in 2012. Eur J Cancer 49 (2013) 1374–1403
  2. Ferlay J, Ervik M, Lam F, Colombet M, Mery L, Piñeros M, Znaor A, Soerjomataram I, Bray F (2018). Global Cancer Observatory: Cancer Today. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Available from: [accessed on 30 October 2018]. Statistics for Europe are based on WHO Europe region of 53 countries. Data for Andorra, Monaco and San Marino are not included.
  3. Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C, Rebelo M, Parkin DM, Forman D, Bray, F. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013. Available from: [accessed on 26 May 2015]
  4. F. Cardoso, N. Harbeck, L. Fallowfield, S. Kyriakides, E. Senkus, and on behalf of the ESMO Guidelines Working Group
  5. O’Shaghnessy, J. (2005). Extending survival with chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer. The Oncologist, 10(20), 20-29