This site is intended for patients in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) who have been prescribed PIQRAY®▼ (alpelisib) + fulvestrant.

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What is advanced breast cancer (aBC)?

If you or someone you care for is diagnosed with aBC, finding out exactly what this means can help you take control and feel confident to support your loved one. Understanding your condition also helps you and your doctor make the best treatment choices for you.1

Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast start to grow and multiply out of control. As these cells build up, they form a mass or tumour.2

If this tumour grows so much that it harms the healthy tissue around it, it is called malignant or cancerous.3

If these cancerous cells begin to spread to other parts of the body, this is called metastatic, stage 4, or advanced cancer.1,4 Advanced breast cancer usually spreads to the bones, lungs, liver and brain.4

Even though aBC spreads to other parts of the body, the tumours that form in these new locations are made up of breast cells. That means they are still sensitive to breast cancer treatments.4

About 30% of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer will develop aBC.4

What are the types of aBC?

aBC can be grouped into different types based on how far it has spread at the time you are diagnosed, and whether it is a new breast cancer or one that’s come back after treatment.

Learning about these types of aBC can help you better understand your treatment plan.

Recurrent aBC

Sometimes after successful treatment and a period of time when cancer is no longer detectable, aBC can come back.5

de novo aBC

In 6–10% of women, breast cancer manages to spread to another body part before it is detected in their breast.4,6  This is called de novo aBC, which means the breast cancer is found to be in advanced stages at the time of first diagnosis.6

Although there is no cure for aBC, progress is being made, and a number of treatments, such as PIQRAY®▼ (alpelisib)7 in combination with fulvestrant, are available to people with aBC to help control their cancer.4,7  

Glossary of terms banner image

Use the aBC glossary as a quick guide to any terms that are new to you

Where would you like to go next?


aBC, advanced breast cancer; PIK3CA, phosphatidylinositol-4,5-biphosphate 3-kinase catalytic subunit alpha.


  1. American Cancer Society. Understanding advanced cancer, metastatic cancer, and bone metastasis. Available at: [Accessed November 2021].
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is breast cancer? Available at: [Accessed November 2021].
  3. National Cancer Institute. NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms: malignant. Available at: [Accessed November 2021].
  4. Metastatic breast cancer. Available at: [Accessed November 2021].
  5. Recurrent breast cancer. Available at: [Accessed November 2021].
  6. Metastatic Breast Cancer Network. Incidence and incidence rates. Available at: [Accessed November 2021].
  7. PIQRAY® (alpelisib) Patient Information Leaflet. Available at: [Accessed: November 2021].

▼This medicine is subject to additional monitoring. This will allow quick identification of new safety information. You can help by reporting any side effects you may get. See for how to report side effects.

UK | January 2022 | 147259