Once a person is determined to have a malignant tumor or the diagnosis of breast cancer, the healthcare team will determine staging to communicate how far the disease has progressed.
Why is the breast cancer stage important?
Determining the stage helps determine the best way to contain and eli
minate the breast cancer.
How is the stage determined?
The stage is based on the following factors:
- The size of the tumor within the breast
- The number of lymph nodes affected
- The nearest lymph nodes are found under the arm, known as the axillary area
- Signs indicating whether or not the breast cancer cancer has invaded other organs within the body
If breast cancer has spread, or metastasized, evidence be may found in the bones, liver, lungs, or brain.
What Types Of Cancer Are Diagnosed As Stage 0 And 1 Breast Cancer?
The stage of cancer indicates the size of the tumor of abnormal cells and whether or not those cells are contained to the place of origin. The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), indicating the cancer cell growth starts in the milk ducts.
What does the term, “in situ” mean?
Stage 0 cancers are called “carcinoma in situ.” Carcinoma means cancer and “in situ” means “in the original place.” Three possible types of “in situ carcinoma” of the breast tissue are:
- DCIS – Ductal carcinoma in situ
- LCIS – Lobular carcinoma in situ
- Paget disease of the nipple
What Does It Mean To Have Stage 2 Breast Cancer?
Stage 2 means the breast cancer is growing, but it is still contained in the breast or growth has only extended to the nearby lymph nodes.
This stage is divided into groups: Stage 2A and Stage 2B. The difference is determined by the size of the tumor and whether the breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage 3 (III) A, B, And C
Stage 3 breast cancer is considered advanced cancer with evidence of cancer invading surrounding tissues near the breast.
Stage 4 (IV)
Stage 4 breast cancer indicates that cancer has spread beyond the breast to other areas of the body.
Current Standards Of Care
Should patients insist on comprehensive scans, regardless of the stage?
It may not be necessary, but always seek the advice of your physician. There was a time when everyone diagnosed with breast cancer would routinely have a series of scans and tests to rule out the presence of cancer in other organs.However, this standard was discontinued in 1998 by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
The NCCN put forth new national standards for diagnosis and treatment of each type of breast cancer. Instead of undergoing complete “staging work-ups” as they are called, such extensive testing is now often unnecessary, in part due to earlier detection.
The most extensive testing is now commonly reserved for patients with locally advanced disease (very large tumors with cancer affecting several lymph nodes, for example) or for patients whose long-term physical symptoms may imply that breast cancer has spread elsewhere.
Choosing Your Doctor
Working with a doctor to guide your breast cancer treatment decisions is key. Determine what you need to do to cultivate a positive partnership with your doctor and when it might be prudent to seek a second opinion
Standard Treatment Vs. Clinical Trials
Before selecting your breast cancer treatment plan, it’s a good idea to understand the difference between standard treatment and clinical trials so you can make an informed decision about what is right for you.
The most common form of treatment for breast cancer is surgery. This involves removing the tumor and nearby margins. Surgical options may include a lumpectomy, partial mastectomy, radical mastectomy, and reconstruction
Chemotherapy is a breast cancer treatment method that uses a combination of drugs to either destroy cancer cells or slow down the growth of cancer cells.
Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects the nearby skin or cells only in the part of the body that is treated with the radiation.
If the cancer cells have hormone receptors, you may be prescribed hormone therapy drugs, such as blockers or inhibitors. Both types of drugs help to destroy cancer cells by cutting off their supply of hormones.
Targeted therapy uses drugs that block the growth of breast cancer cells in specific ways, often reducing side effects.
Nutrition And Physical Activity
It’s important for you to take very good care of yourself before, during, and after breast cancer treatment.
You’ll need regular check-ups after treatment for breast cancer. This helps ensure that any changes in your health are noted and treated if needed.