Treatments Of Breast Cancer

– What Are The Breast Cancer Stages?

By: - Cancer - December 19, 2011 Comments Off on Treatments of Breast Cancer – What are the Breast Cancer Stages?
treatments of breast cancer

If you are recently diagnosed with breast cancer or know someone who is, you probably will want to know about the different treatments of breast cancer. Depending on which one of the breast cancer stages the patient is in as well as the type of breast cancer they have, there may be different treatment methods used. The patient and her doctor will work together to come up with the best source of treatment, but it can be very helpful to know about different methods out there. There are new methods all the time and some treatment methods will work better for some patients over others.

Understanding the breast cancer stages can help you get a good idea why some treatment methods can work better than others for certain stages. Stage 0 is a term that describes breast cancer that is non-invasive. Non-invasive breast cancer will not spread and it is usually 100% curable since it will not spread. Stage 1 breast cancer is a type of invasive cancer that will spread if adequate treatment is not taken. The breast cancer is considered a stage 1 cancer if the tumor is less than 2 cm in diameter and there has been no spreading to the lymph nodes.

Stage 2 breast cancer is divided into two types, IIA IIB. Stage IIA is an invasive cancer that has a tumor that is less than 2 cm in diameter and has begun spreading to the lymph nodes or the present tumor is greater than 2 cm in diameter but has not spread into the lymph nodes. Stage IIB is when the tumor’s size is larger than 2 cm but less than 5 cm and has spread to the lymph nodes or the tumor is sized larger than 5 cm and has stayed in the breast tissue, not yet spreading to the lymph nodes.

Stage 3 cancer is made into three types, IIIA, IIIB and IIIC. The first, stage IIIA is where there is a tumor of any size that has spread into the lymph nodes in noticeable clumps or it has spread to the lymph nodes around the breastbone. Stage IIIB is when the tumor is any size and has spread to the skin of the breast or the chest wall. Stage IIIB will often be called inflammatory breast cancer as one of the signs is the reddening of the skin of the breast.  Stage IIIC is identified when the cancer has started in the breast but has spread to the lymph nodes, breast bone and the skin.

Stage 4 breast cancer is also known as advanced or metastatic breast cancer which means it has spread to other organ systems.  They most commonly affected organs by stage 4 breast cancer are the lungs, bones, skin, liver or brain.

Now that you know the breast cancer stages, you can understand which treatments work better with one stage over another. Stage 0 breast cancer, in which the cancer is not invasive, is generally treated with surgery followed by radiation. Usually a lumpectomy will be done, which is just the surgical removal of the tumor. In rare cases, a total mastectomy can be performed.

Treatments for stage 1 cancer may include surgical lumpectomy followed by radiation, total mastectomy, removal of the affected lymph nodes, and chemotherapy. For stage 2 cancer, both IIA and IIB, chemotherapy is almost always recommended. Additionally, surgical procedures can be done after chemotherapy is completely to remove the lump. Surgical removal of the lymph nodes will also be done. Radiation may be recommended following surgery.

Treatment for Stage 3 cancer depends on the type. IIIA and operable IIIC will be treated as stage 2 listed above. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy will be used in almost all cases. For IIIB and inoperable IIIC, a total mastectomy is usually the only method of treatment available and it will be followed with radiation or chemotherapy. For Stage 4 cancer, radiation is almost always used because the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Chemotherapy and surgery, such as mastectomy may be used as well.

The treatments of breast cancer listed above will be modified to the patient’s specific needs. Though these treatments are traditional, there are certainly other treatment methods out there from hormone therapy to diet and even alternative medicine.  The treatments of breast cancer are getting better all the time.  It will be just a matter of time, according to most people in the field, before there is a cure for this disease. Positive news comes out all the time on new and exciting studies. We are close to finding a cure to breast cancer, but until we do, traditional treatments continue to save millions of lives.


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