Understanding Your Cancer And Treatment
Not all breast cancers are alike. Someone elses experience with their treatment may be completely different from yours. Understanding your type and stage can help make sense of your doctors recommendations. This may help you feel better about your treatment choices.
A big part of cancer treatment is the relationship between you and your oncology team. Here are some things youll want to know about early on so youre well informed about your specific type of breast cancer:
What Is The Survival Rate Of Lymph Node Cancer
Lymphoma is the name of a group of blood cancers that start in the lymphatic system. The two main types of lymphoma are the Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
About 90 percent of people with a diagnosis of lymphoma have non-Hodgkin lymphoma the rest have Hodgkin lymphoma. Some types of lymphoma are curable. Patients with other types of lymphoma can control the disease and have a good quality of life with medical treatment.
Does Radiation To The Chest Wall Work
Radiation to the underarm area and upper chest wall is also part of treatment. For patients who are having a mastectomy surgery and have a positive sentinel node: For these women, the standard of care remains the same, calling for the node removal and dissection of the axillary nodes. The additional nodes removed at the time
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Univariate And Multivariate Survival Analysis Of 929 Patients
Seven factors were determined to have statistical significance in survival of 929 breast cancer patients after surgery by univariate analysis . These are as follows: age: patients with age 50 were more likely to have a better 5-year OS compared with age > 50 T stage: patients with larger primary tumor had lower 5-year OS histologic grade: the higher the histologic grade, the lower the 5-year OS Ki67: patients with ki67 < 14% were more likely to have a better 5-year OS compared with Ki67 14% HER2: HER2 positive patients were more likely to have a lower 5-year OS compared with HER2 negative patients LNR: patients with higher LNR showed lower 5-year OS NLN count: patients with higher NLN count had better 5-year OS. All of the seven variables were included in multivariate analysis to adjust for covariate effects . In this Cox proportional hazard model, only LNR, T stage, and histologic grade remained statistically significant in correlation with 5-year OS of postoperative invasive breast cancer.
What Are Cancer Survival Statistics
A key part of making a prognosis is looking at survival rates. These are numbers researchers collect over many years in people with the same type of cancer. These numbers are based on large groups of people. For breast cancer, there are two main measurements:
Breast cancer survivalrates reflect the percentage of women who are alive 5 years or longer after their diagnosis. This means the numbers are based on women who were found to have breast cancer at least 5 years ago. Advances in diagnosing and treating cancer have led to steadily improving survival rates, so the outlook for women diagnosed today is likely better.
Relative survival rates donât take into account the cause of death. Theyâre a measure of the percentage of people with cancer who have lived for a certain time after diagnosis, compared with people who did not have cancer.
Does Radiation Kill Cancer Cells In The Lymph Nodes
But, Giuliano points out, most patients with early-stage breast cancer also have radiation therapy, which kills cancer cells in the lymph nodes. Chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy medication prescribed to some women based on the type of breast cancer they have also destroys cancer in lymph nodes.
What Is The Treatment For Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Healthcare providers and researchers are making significant progress on TNBC treatments. Recent clinical trials are testing new combinations of drugs and new approaches to existing treatments. Some existing treatments are:
- Chemotherapy: Providers might combine chemotherapy and surgery, with chemotherapy being used to shrink your tumor before surgery or after surgery to kill cancer cells throughout your body.
- Surgery: This could be a lumpectomy to remove an individual lump, or a mastectomy to remove an entire breast. Providers then perform a sentinel node biopsy or axillary node surgery to look for signs your breast cancer has spread to your lymph nodes.
- Radiation therapy: Post-surgery radiation therapy helps reduce the chances your cancer will return or recur.
- Immunotherapy: This treatment stimulates your immune system to produce more cancer-fighting cells or help healthy cells identify and attack cancer cells. Immunotherapy can be added to chemotherapy to before surgery to shrink the tumor. You might also receive immunotherapy for about a year after your surgery and post-surgery radiation therapy.
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Can Tnbc Be Prevented
Researchers dont know all the factors that cause triple negative breast cancer. They have identified the BRAC1 gene mutation as one potential cause for triple negative breast cancer. Unfortunately, you cant prevent BRAC1 because you inherit this gene mutation from your parents.
But there are steps that help prevent breast cancers, including TNBC:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise on a regular basis.
- Know your family medical history.
- Monitor your breast health. Studies show 95% of women whose breast cancer was treated before it could spread were alive four years after diagnosis.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about genetic testing for the BRCA gene if you have a family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic or prostate cancer. If you have the BRCA gene, there are steps you can take to prevent breast cancer.
Patient Characteristics With Reference To Age At Diagnosis
Clinical factors and tumor characteristics of the six age groups are shown in Table . Distant metastasis at the time of diagnosis was more common with increasing age. There was considerably more missing data for the oldest age category concerning axillary lymph node status. It was more common for older women to have been regarded as unsuitable for surgery, and it was also less common for these women to have undergone an axillary dissection.
Table 1 Distribution of age at diagnosis in relation to patient characteristics, tumor characteristics, and surgical treatment
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Stage 3 Breast Cancer
Stage 3 breast cancer has spread outside the breast but not to distant sites. The cancer is typically in nearby lymph nodes or skin.
Stage 3 breast cancer is typically harder to treat than earlier stages. This, however, ultimately depends on several factors, including:
- hormone receptivity
A doctor can help a person better understand the stage of cancer and how that will affect treatment options and their outlook.
Healthcare professionals distinguish between the following stages of stage 3 breast cancer:
Survival Rates And Mortality Rates
Survival depends on mortality. You start with 100 percent of the people in the group.
100 percent mortality rate = survival rate
Say, the mortality rate in the group of people is 5 percent. Survival would be 95 percent .
Similarly, the number of people in a group who survive depends on the number of people who die. Say, 500 people are in the group and 1 person dies. This means 499 people survived .
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Outlook For Breast Cancer In The Lymph Nodes
Does having cancer in your lymph nodes always lead to a worse outcome? Not necessarily, say experts. Other factors go into determining your prognosis, including the biology of your tumor and how its treated, Dr. FitzSullivan says.
If the cancer has spread to many lymph nodes, theres a greater chance it has already spread somewhere else in your body. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer thats in lymph nodes around the breast is 86%. Once it has spread to farther away lymph nodes and to distant organs, the five-year survival rate drops to 29%.
These percentages are relevant for anyone with breast cancerbut keep in mind, they may not exactly apply to you. Your outlook can differ based on factors like your health and the type of treatment you get.
As always, talk to your doctor about any symptoms youre experiencing, and if you have breast cancer, feel free to ask questions about it spreading to your lymph nodes. If you have concerns, express them, so your doctor can address them.
Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
Another way to decide whether cancer is present in the lymph nodes is to perform a sentinel lymph node biopsy. During surgery to remove your cancer, a radioactive tracer and/or a blue dye is injected into the region of the tumor. The surgeon then watches to see which lymph node is the first to receive the dye or tracer as it is carried away from the tumor site by the lymphatic vessels. The surgeon then removes this “sentinel” node. If it is free of cancer, your doctor may not need to remove any other lymph nodes.
This procedure is still quite new, but many doctors believe that it will prove to be as effective as axillary dissection in at least some patients. This could be important because removal of the lymph nodes produces a condition called lymphedema in 10 percent to 20 percent of women with breast cancer. It is hoped that decreasing the amount of surgery performed in the armpit will decrease lymphedema and other side effects.
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Prognosis Or Life Expectancy Of Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer is the most advanced stage of breast cancer, and there is no cure for it, said Dr. Lin. According to the ACS, the five-year survival rate for people with breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and surrounding lymph nodes is 29%that means people with this form of breast cancer are just 29% as likely to be alive five years from diagnosis as people who do not have cancer.
This may sound grim, but there are a few important things to keep in mind about survival rates. First off, there is a lot of variability between patients, because survival is affected by many different factors. All of the following can impact a metastatic breast cancer patient’s survival, said Dr. Taiwo:
- Age at diagnosis
- Other existing medical conditions they have
- The specific type of breast cancer
- Where the cancer spread in the body , and how extensive it is
- How the cancer responds to treatment
For example, said Dr. Taiwo, the life expectancy of a metastatic breast cancer patient who has been on the same treatment for three years is likely going to be better than a patient who had to change treatments a few times because their cancer isn’t responding to it. Similarly, a patient who has one bone lesion will likely fare better than a patient whose cancer has spread to multiple sites in their bones as well as their lungs or liver.
When Does Cancer Spread To The Lymph Nodes
The rate that cancer spreads to a persons lymph nodes may depend on the cancer they have.
Some cancers can spread more quickly to the lymph nodes. Other cancers are slow to develop, and may spread at a slower rate.
Cancer can affect people in different ways, so it can be hard to predict how it may spread.
When a doctor discusses a persons cancer with them, they may refer to the stage it is at. Different stages of cancer indicate how far it has spread from its original location.
The National Cancer Institute states that the stages of cancer are:
- Stage 0: Stage 0 cancer, also called carcinoma in situ , is when abnormal cells are present, but have not spread.
- Stage 1, 2, and 3: Stages 1 to 3 indicate that there is cancer present. The higher the stage, the larger and more spread out the cancer is.
- Stave 4: Stage 4 cancer is when the cancer has spread to areas that are distant from the original tumor.
Healthcare professionals also break stage 3 into multiple categories, including 3a, b, and c. The stage at which cancer has spread to the lymph nodes varies. According to the United Kingdoms National Health Service, the cancer may have spread to the lymph nodes at stage 3.
|Number beside the N|
Discovering and treating cancer early can
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Where Do Axillary Lymph Nodes Run
The axillary lymph nodes run from the breast tissue into the armpit. Early theories of breast-cancer metastasis held that cancer cells that had broken free from the main tumor would first travel through these lymph nodes on their way to other organs. That led doctors to believe that removing the axillary lymph nodes could reduce the risk of both cancer recurrence and metastases.
What Are The Treatment Options For Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
ILC can be more difficult to diagnose than other forms of breast cancer because it spreads in a unique pattern thats not always noticeable in imaging tests. The good news is that its a relatively slow-growing cancer, which gives you time to form a treatment plan with your cancer team.
There are several treatment options that can help increase your chances of a full recovery.
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What Is Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
Before discussing how invasive ductal carcinoma is staged and what those stages mean, it may be helpful to explain exactly what this malignancy is.Invasive ductal carcinoma involves the ducts that carry milk from the lobules to the nipples. The malignancy develops when cancerous cells form in one of these ducts and then spread to the surrounding tissues or lymph nodes. Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer, accounting for approximately 80% of the total number of cases.
Invasive ductal carcinoma can cause the following symptoms:
- A lump within the breast or the underarm area
- Pain or swelling in one breast
- Redness or a rash on a breast
- Dimpling around a nipple
- Inward turning of a nipple
- Discharge from a nipple
- Other changes in the size, shape or feel of a breast
These symptoms can be difficult to notice, especially when invasive ductal carcinoma hasnt yet progressed past its early stages, so its important to perform monthly breast examinations and consult with a physician about any noticeable changes, even if they appear minor.
Notably, many individuals with invasive ductal carcinoma also have ductal carcinoma in situ , a type of noninvasive breast cancer that occurs when cancerous cells remain confined to the milk duct rather than spreading to nearby tissues. Although DCIS is often considered to be precancerous and preinvasive, it can become invasive and begin spreading to surrounding tissues if left untreated.
Does Lymph Node Removal Improve Survival
Extensive Lymph Node Removal Doesnt Improve Survival in Some Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer. New study results show that for women with early-stage breast cancer, having only a sentinel lymph node biopsy after lumpectomy, rather than a more aggressive biopsy procedure, did not decrease survival. Long-term results from a large clinical trial
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Invasive Lobular Carcinoma Grades
Its important to understand the difference between the stage and the grade numbers assigned during a cancer diagnosis. The cancers stage refers to its size and how much it has spread. Grade is a measure of the cancerous cells appearance and predicted tendency to spread.
Specifically, grade refers to how similar or different your cancer cells are to a normal cell. This grade will be noted after your cancer cells have been examined under a microscope. This will require a biopsy. Youll probably see an assigned grade of 1, 2, or 3.
The lowest grade 1 refers to cancer cells that resemble normal breast cells, are slow-growing, and least likely to spread. Grade 2 cells look less like normal cells and are growing a bit faster. Grade 3 cells look much different and will likely grow and spread the fastest.
The grade number assigned to your cancer will help your doctor decide on the best course of treatment for you and gauge your prognosis.
What Are The Stages Of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
Invasive ductal carcinoma is usually described through a numeric scale ranging from 1 to 4 . Specifically, the invasive ductal carcinoma stages are:
- Stage 1 A breast tumor is smaller than 2 centimeters in diameter and the cancer has not spread beyond the breast.
- Stage 2 A breast tumor measures 2 to 4 centimeters in diameter or cancerous cells have spread to the lymph nodes in the underarm area.
- Stage 3 More extensive cancer is found, but it is confined to the breast, surrounding tissues and lymph nodes.
- Stage 4 The breast cancer has metastasized to lymph nodes beyond the underarm area or to distant sites, such as the lungs, liver, bones or brain.
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What Is The Prognosis For Lymph Node Cancer
What is the prognosis when cancer has spread to the lymphnodes? A patient with widespread metastasis or with metastasis to the lymphnodes has a life expectancy of less than six weeks.A patient with metastasis to the brain has a more variable life expectancy depending on the number and location of lesions and the specifics of treatment.
Will I Die Of Breast Cancer
This is a difficult question to answer early in your cancer care but it is still worth asking. Many people just diagnosed with cancer have no idea how much of a risk to their life their unique situation poses. Most breast cancers carry a low risk of recurrence, especially early-stage cancers. The answer is usually reassuring.