Stages & Treatment of Breast Cancer
Stages of Breast Cancer
Cancer stages are based on the size of the tumor, whether the cancer is invasive or non-invasive, whether lymph nodes are involved, and whether the cancer has spread beyond the breast. Following are the stages of breast cancer.
Stage 0– Stage 0 is used to describe non-invasive breast cancers, such as DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in situ). In this stage, the cancer has not spread to the nearby tissues.
Stage I– Stage I describe invasive breast cancer, in which the tumor measures up to 2 centimeters and no lymph nodes are involved.
Stage II—Stage II describes invasive breast cancer in which:
- The tumor measures 2 centimeters or less and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
- The tumor is larger than 2 centimeters but not larger than 5 centimeters and has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
- The tumor is larger than 2 but not larger than 5 centimeters and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
- The tumor is larger than 5 centimeters but has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
Stage III—Stage III is divided into subcategories known as IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC.
Stage IIIA describes invasive breast cancer in which either:
- No tumor is found in the breast. Cancer is found in axillary lymph nodes that are clumped together or sticking to other structures or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone.
- The tumor is 5 centimeters or smaller and has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are clumped together or sticking to other structures.
- The tumor is larger than 5 centimeters and has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are clumped together or sticking to other structures.
Stage IIIB describes invasive breast cancer in which:
- The tumor may be of any size and has spread to the chest wall and/or skin of the breast.
- May have spread to axillary lymph nodes that are clumped together or sticking to other structures or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone.
Stage IIIC describes invasive breast cancer in which:
- There may be no sign of cancer in the breast or, if there is a tumor, it may be any size and may have spread to the chest wall and/or the skin of the breast.
- The cancer has spread to lymph nodes above or below the collarbone.
- The cancer may have spread to axillary lymph nodes or to lymph nodes near the breastbone.
Stage IV—Stage IV describes invasive breast cancer in which the cancer has spread to other organs of the body, such as the lungs, liver, bone, or brain.
Recurrent and Metastatic Breast Cancer
Locally recurrent cancer is the return of cancer to the area where a patient initially had it. When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body such as bones, liver, lungs or brain, it is called metastatic breast cancer. The sites where the cancer shows up are metastatic sites.
Treatment of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer treatment depends on extent of spread of the disease. Once the extent is known by the physician a treatment program for the patient is planned. Breast cancer treatment involves:
- Local Therapy
- Systemic Therapy
Local Therapy includes
- Surgery: Surgery could involve removing the whole breast (Mastectomy) or just the area where lump has formed (Lumpectomy).
- Radiation Therapy
- Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy
- Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
With IORT, the radiation is delivered in a single treatment right to the target tissue (lumpectomy cavity) in the operating room at the time of surgery. With the Xoft eBx system, a typical IORT treatment for breast cancer can be completed in as little as eight minutes.
Systemic Therapy involves
- Hormone Therapy
- Targeted Therapy
Treatment Choices by Stage—Breast Cancer treatment depends mainly on the stage of the disease, the grade of the tumor, biopsy of the tumor and the general health of the patient. Reviewing all these factors, the health care provider will decide the treatment options.
Follow Up Care
Checkups help ensure that any changes in your health are noted and treated if needed. If you have any health problems between checkups, you should contact your doctor. Tell your doctor about any health problems, such as pain, loss of appetite or weight, changes in menstrual cycles, unusual vaginal bleeding, or blurred vision. Also talk to your doctor about headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, coughing or hoarseness, backaches, or digestive problems that seem unusual or that don’t go away. Such problems may arise months or years after treatment. They may suggest that the cancer has returned, but they can also be symptoms of other health problems. It’s important to share your concerns with your doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Nutrition and Physical Activity
It’s important for you to take very good care of yourself before, during, and after cancer treatment. Taking care of yourself includes eating well and staying as active as you can. You need the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy.
Sometimes, especially during or soon after treatment, you may not feel like eating. You may feel uncomfortable or tired. You may find that foods don’t taste as good as they used to. In addition, the side effects of treatment such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth blisters can make it hard to eat well. On the other hand, some women treated for breast cancer may have a problem with weight gain. Your doctor health care provider can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs.