UpToDate (2015)

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related death among females worldwide [1]. Despite the gains in early detection, up to five% of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States have metastatic disease at the time of first presentation. In addition, up to 30% of women with early-stage, non-metastatic breast cancer at diagnosis will develop distant metastatic disease [2]. Although metastatic breast cancer is not curable, meaningful improvements in survival have been seen, coincident with the introduction of newer systemic therapies [3-5].

The role of chemotherapy for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer will be reviewed here. A general overview of the approach to metastatic breast cancer, endocrine therapy for hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer, Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 (HER2)-directed agents and other molecularly targeted therapy, and breast cancer in men are reviewed separately. In addition, commonly used treatment regimens used in the treatment of breast cancer are also compiled in a separate topic.