New systemic agents and integrated multidisciplinary management of patients have increased the length of survival in patients with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer. The management of these patients is discussed in this second article of a three-part series on advances in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
- Patients with locally advanced breast cancer are typically managed with curative intent to optimise treatment outcomes.
- Patients with metastatic breast cancer almost always have incurable disease and the primary aims of treatment are to improve symptom control, quality of life and survival.
- New systemic agents and integrated multidisciplinary management have increased the length of survival in patients with these breast cancers.
- Early palliative care referral should be offered to patients with metastatic breast cancer so that they may benefit from symptom management, nursing support and potentially improved survival.
- Oncological emergencies such as neutropenic sepsis and spinal cord compression require urgent referral for treatment.