Statistics / Guidelines

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.
  • 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.
  • It is estimated that 20–30% of women diagnosed with early breast cancer will eventually progress to metastatic disease.
  • Early breast cancer may lead to MBC regardless of the stage at which it is diagnosed or measures taken.

Guidelines on MBC*

Europa Donna recommends that advocates become knowledgeable about evidence-based guidelines and learn about current best practices.  In this way we can advocate for appropriate services and methods of support for MBC patients.  Below is a list of some recent MBC guidelines:

International Consensus Conference for Advanced Breast Cancer:

The International Consensus Conference for Advanced Breast Cancer is a major international breast cancer conference held biennially in Lisbon, Portugal.  Its primary aim is the development of international consensus guidelines for the management of ABC patients.  Representatives of breast cancer patient advocacy groups are invited to participate in the conference and to actively contribute to the scientific programme and the consensus session. The ABC guidelines are jointly developed by ESO (European School of Oncology) and ESMO (European Society of Medical Oncology). Europa Donna members serve on the consensus panel as well as the Breast Cancer Patient Advocacy Committee. The conference is held every two years.


The Advanced Breast Cancer 6th ESO-ESMO Consensus Conference (ABC 6) took take place virtually on 4-6 November 2021


The Advanced Breast Cancer 7th ESO-ESMO Consensus Conference (ABC 7) will take place in Lisbon, Portugal on 9-11 November 2023


Documents from ABC Consensus Conferences are available here


European Society of Medical Oncology

In 2021, ESMO published the ESMO Clinical Practice Guideline for the diagnosis, staging and treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer which provides key recommendations for managing metastatic breast cancer covering the whole continuum from diagnosis to palliative care and includes the patient perspective. In May 2022, ESMO published the ESMO ​Metastatic Breast Cancer Living Guidelines​ which were prepared by G Curigliano, A Gennari, N Harbeck, L Castelo-Branco, C Criscitiello and D Trapani, on behalf of the Clinical Practice Guideline author group.


The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 

ASCO is a professional organization representing physicians of all oncology sub-specialties who care for people with cancer; its mission is to conquer cancer through research, education, and promotion of the highest quality patient care.  ASCO develops and publishes clinical practice guidelines, provisional clinical opinions, and guideline endorsements, providing evidence-based recommendations to serve as a guide for doctors and outline appropriate methods of treatment and care. The following are links to several ASCO guidelines publications on Metastatic Breast Cancer:

For more ASCO publications on MBC see here


*Please note: Europa Donna is Europe’s breast cancer advocacy organization and does not make treatment recommendations or endorse any specific treatment modalities.  Treatment options should always be discussed with your health care provider.


International Agency for Research on Cancer. Latest global cancer data: Cancer burden rises to 19.3 million new cases and 10.0 million cancer deaths in 2020. Press release 292. 15 December 2020.
F. Cardoso, N. Harbeck, L. Fallowfield, S. Kyriakides, E. Senkus, and on behalf of the ESMO Guidelines Working Group
O’Shaghnessy, J. (2005). Extending survival with chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer. The Oncologist, 10(20), 20-29