NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Breast Cancer – Metastatic (STAGE IV), Version 2.2017
Not all metastatic breast cancers are the
same. Your cancer doctor will want to
learn all about the cancer you have. Part 2
describes the tests used to learn about
breast cancer. Based on the test results,
your treatment can be tailored to you. This
is called personalized medicine.
Your medical history includes any health events and
medicines you’ve taken in your life. Your cancer
doctor will want to know about illnesses, breast
biopsies, prior treatment with radiation, and if you are
pregnant. It may help to make a list of old and new
medications while at home to bring to your doctor’s
Breast cancer and other health conditions can run in
families. Thus, your cancer doctor will ask about the
medical history of your relatives. Hereditary breast
cancers are due to abnormal genes that were passed
down from a parent to a child. They are not common.
About 1 out of 10 breast cancers are hereditary.
Read the section called
A medical history is needed for treatment planning.
for a complete list of care that is
advised prior to treatment. Some women do not need
every test or service listed.
Doctors often perform a physical exam along with
taking a medical history. A physical exam is a study
of your body for signs of disease. To start, your basic
body functions will be measured. These functions
include your temperature, blood pressure, and pulse
and breathing (respiration) rate. Your weight will also
During an exam, your doctor will listen to your lungs,
heart, and gut. He or she will also look at and feel
parts of your body. This is done to see if organs are
of normal size, are soft or hard, or cause pain when
Your doctor will touch your breasts and nearby lymph
nodes. This is called a clinical breast exam. Your
breasts may be felt while you sit or stand up as well
as when you lie back. Some women feel uneasy
having their breasts touched by their doctor. Keep in
mind that this exam provides important information
and is quick.