What are the signs and symptoms of advanced breast cancer?

Breast cancer

Signs and symptoms of advanced breast cancer

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of ABC can vary depending on where the cancer has spread.

Symptoms may include:

  • pain in your bones (for example in the back, hips, ribs, long bones of the arms and legs) that doesn’t improve with pain relief or lasts for more than two weeks and is often worse at night
  • unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite
  • feeling constantly tired
  • constant nausea (feeling sick)
  • a dry cough or feeling of breathlessness
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • loss of urinary and/or bowel control
  • weakness or numbness in legs
  • altered vision or speech
  • discomfort or swelling under the ribs or across the upper abdomen
  • severe or ongoing headaches, loss of balance or co-ordination, and seizures

      It is important to remember that many symptoms may have a benign (non-cancerous) cause. For example, aches and pains in the bones may be due to an injury, ageing, arthritis or related to side effects from treatment. Breathlessness and a cough can be symptoms of a cold or flu-type illness.

      If you have any persistent or unexplained symptoms, it is important to get these checked out. Don’t wait for your next planned appointment – get in contact with your oncologist, breast care nurse or GP straight away. If you are further down the track and have been off treatment or surveillance ask your GP for an urgent referral back to your local breast clinic.

      Getting help

      If you are not sure, or concerned about any symptoms you are experiencing, please give our specialist nurses a call on 0800 226 8773 or email breastnurse@bcf.org.nz

      Tests and investigations

      If you have any new signs or symptoms associated with ABC, your doctor will recommend certain tests and investigations.