In 2009, October 13 was established as the first annual Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Metastatic breast cancer or MBC (also called stage IV or advanced breast cancer) is disease that has spread to other organs, usually the liver, lungs, brain or bones. More than 154,000 women in the U.S. are living with metastatic breast cancer. It can affect men too, but it’s rare. While there is no cure for MBC, treatments can slow the cancer’s growth and spread. These treatments can extend a patient’s life, and also improve quality of life. Today, many MBC patients live 10 years or more after their diagnosis.
Created by SELF magazine in 1992, the widely recognized pink ribbon is a symbol that celebrates breast cancer survivors. Unfortunately, there is no surviving or “beating” MBC. More funding for research to develop additional life-extending treatments is urgently needed. A tri-colored ribbon designed by the nonprofit support and advocacy group Metavivor supports that goal while also supporting patients living with MBC.
The ribbon includes green, which represents the triumph of spring over winter and life over death. Teal symbolizes healing and spirituality. A thin pink overlay signifies that metastatic cancer started in the breast. Metavivor is behind a new campaign called #LightUpMBC. Today, October 13th, more than 115 iconic landmarks around the world will be lit in green, pink and teal, symbolizing the more than 115 people who die from MBC every day.
FORCE’s XRAY program has a portal dedicated to Metastatic Breast Cancer. There you can find XRAY reviews that highlight some promising new life-extending treatments for MBC patients, including:
- An article about FDA approval of a new breast cancer drug, which improves overall survival among people with brain and other metastases.
- FDA approval of a smart drug for treating metastatic triple-negative breast cancer.
Some XRAY reviews cover personal stories about how some patients living with MBC cope with their disease:
- Personal Story: Running marathons with metastatic breast cancer? Yes!
- Personal Story: Coping with chemotherapy-induced hair loss
Other XRAY reports cover topics such as how palliative care can help patients who live with metastatic breast cancer.
Just as FORCE’s colors have been expanded from just pink and teal to include the ribbon colors of other hereditary cancers, the MBC cancer ribbon encompasses much of what patients living with MBC hope for themselves and others who will face this disease.