, Volume 26, Issue 3-4, pp 663-674
Date: 07 Sep 2007

Evaluating distant metastases in breast cancer: from biology to outcomes

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There is an urgent need to understand distant metastases in breast cancer as they are the most lethal form of recurrence and a major cause of mortality in patients. Some predictors for distant metastases, including nodal status, tumor grade, and hormonal status, are useful in identifying patients at increased risk for distant metastases. Adjuvant endocrine therapy has been the treatment of choice for postmenopausal women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer, and some therapies have shown significant reductions in the risk of distant metastases. Skeletal metastases in breast cancer are treated with bisphosphonates with a certain level of success. With more new agents undergoing clinical trials, a thorough review of the specific and long-term safety of these agents is essential, as is a better understanding of the deterioration in the quality of life and cost concerns of patients who develop distant metastases. Gene-expression profiling is a new entrant in the field of distant metastases diagnosis, which is largely successful in defining gene signatures that predict the development of distant metastases. This review will discuss the biology and the impact of distant metastases on outcomes for patients with breast cancer; it also encompasses the current status, emerging focus, and future perspectives in treatment of skeletal metastases in patients with breast cancer.