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How Long Can You Have Breast Cancer

How Long Does It Take To Treat Breast Cancer

Can You Get a Normal MRI & Still Have Breast Cancer?

There are many factors to consider when determining how long breast cancer takes to treat. Even your doctor will only be able to give estimates based on how far your cancer has spread through the breast tissue and where it has metastasized if it has metastasized at all.

Their estimates are based on decades of experience and medical research. However, you should still ask your doctor to give you two estimates, one that imagines everything going to plan and one that factors in common complications. Taking all factors into consideration, the Mayo Clinic suggests that the average treatment length for breast cancer can be divided into two categories: early-stage breast cancer and advanced breast cancer. When trying to figure out how long breast cancer takes to treat, its important to start here.

If youre lucky and catch your condition early on, then your breast cancer treatment will generally last between three and six months. This assumes there is no further growth while you are undergoing treatment. In more advanced cases, you should typically expect a minimum of six months of treatment. How far it goes beyond that depends on how many surgeries you need and how far the cancer has spread.

What Are Breast Cancer Survival Rates By Stage What Is The Prognosis Of Breast Cancer

Survival rates are a way for health care professionals to discuss the prognosis and outlook of a cancer diagnosis with their patients. The number most frequently discussed is 5-year survival. It is the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after they are diagnosed with cancer. Many of these patients live much longer, and some patients die earlier from causes other than breast cancer. With a constant change in therapies, these numbers also change. The current 5-year survival statistic is based on patients who were diagnosed at least 5 years ago and may have received different therapies than are available today. As with all statistics, although the numbers define outcomes for the group, any individual’s outcome has the potential for a wide range of variation.

All of this needs to be taken into consideration when interpreting these numbers for oneself.

Below are the statistics from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER database.

Stage
IV 22%

These statistics are for all patients diagnosed and reported. Several recent studies have looked at different racial survival statistics and have found a higher mortality in African-American women compared to white women in the same geographic area.

Who Is A Candidate For Brca Gene Testing

This should be discussed with your health care provider or treatment team as this information is frequently updated. Guidelines for testing may include

  • a personal history of breast cancer diagnosis at a young age, bilateral breast cancer, breast and ovarian cancer diagnosis, or a personal history of ovarian cancer
  • family history of breast cancer at a young age or ovarian cancer and a personal history of breast cancer
  • family member with bilateral breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or both breast and ovarian cancer
  • relative with a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation and
  • a male relative with breast cancer.

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What I Wish People Knew About Metastatic Breast Cancer

Women with metastatic breast cancer think about fighting cancer very differently than women who don’t have a stage 4 diagnosis. If you have advanced cancer, these women understand what youre going through.

The term metastatic breast cancer describes breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to the bones, liver, brain, or another organ. Even if the cancer is found in another organ, its still referred to as breast cancer and is treated as such.

While metastatic breast cancer is terminal and cannot be cured, because of improved treatments more women are living longer than ever with it. Even so, a lack of information and many misconceptions about this diagnosis persist.

Here are several things you should know about metastatic breast cancer and the women who are living with it.

Living With Stage : The Breast Cancer No One Understands

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Editor’s note: We’re bringing back this piece from October 2014 for Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and to honor Jody Schoger, featured in the story. Schoger died of metastatic breast cancer in May. Want to learn more about MBC? Look for our tweets at the Northwest Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference this Saturday at Fred Hutch.

A no-nonsense Texan of 60 years, Jody Schoger* has a very no-nonsense way of educating people about her metastatic breast cancer.

âSomeone will say, âWhen are you done with treatment?â and Iâll tell them, âWhen Iâm dead,ââ said Schoger, a writer and cancer advocate who lives near Houston. âSo many people interpret survivorship as going across the board. That everybody survives cancer now. But everybody does not survive cancer.â

An estimated 155,000-plus women in the U.S. currently live with âmets,â or metastatic breast cancer. This type of cancer, also called stage 4 breast cancer, means the cancer has metastasized, or traveled, through the bloodstream to create tumors in the liver, lungs, brain, bones and/or other parts of the body. Between 20 and 30 percent of women with early stage breast cancer go on to develop metastatic disease. While treatable, metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured. The five-year survival rate for stage 4 breast cancer is 22 percent median survival is three years. Annually, the disease takes 40,000 lives.

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Can I Take Tamoxifen With Other Drugs

Always check with your treatment team or pharmacist if youre taking any other medicines with tamoxifen.

A few studies have suggested that some drugs may interfere with the way tamoxifen works, making it less effective. These include fluoxetine , paroxetine , bupropion , quinidine or cinacalcet .

More recent research suggests this is unlikely, but you may be recommended not to use these drugs with tamoxifen, in which case an alternative may be suggested.

Check with your treatment team before stopping taking these drugs as stopping them suddenly may be harmful.

Metastatic Breast Cancer: What You Should Know

What does it mean to have metastatic, or stage 4, breast cancer? A Rogel Cancer Center oncologist explains the diagnosis and how its treated.

After hearing a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, a rush of questions emerges. But often, its not until long after leaving the doctors office.

Metastatic means the cancer has spread beyond the breast and immediate lymph nodes to other organs or tissues in the body, most often the bones, brain, lungs or liver. Its considered stage 4 breast cancer, which means the cancer has progressed to its most advanced stage.

But even though its moved to other organs, it still behaves like breast cancer and is treated with breast cancer therapies.

More than 154,000 U.S. women are estimated to have metastatic breast cancer, according to the Susan G. Komen organization. Men can have metastatic breast cancer too, but its rare.

To help patients fill in information gaps, N. Lynn Henry, M.D., Ph.D., the breast oncology disease lead for the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center, explains the nuances of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

What are the differences between metastatic breast cancer, stage 4 breast cancer and advanced cancer?

If any doctor uses the term advanced, ask for clarification, Henry adds.

When does metastatic breast cancer appear?

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of bone metastases:

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Keeping Cancer In Its Place

Its frustrating when you dont know exactly how long this nightmare will last, but every step you take has the opportunity to give you hope if youre willing to treat it as progress. Whether your battle with cancer lasts for three months, six months, or a year, the most important thing is to create a support network you can rely on. Explain to family and friends what you really need from them rather than letting their fear control your life and find a doctor you can really trust.

Lymph Node Surgery For Breast Cancer

I Just Want To Be Me Again, Advice For Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer Patients

If breast cancer spreads, it typically goes first to nearby lymph nodes under the arm. It can also sometimes spread to lymph nodes near the collarbone or near the breast bone. Knowing if the cancer has spread to your lymph nodes helps doctors find the best way to treat your cancer.

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, its important to find out how far the cancer has spread. To help find out if the cancer has spread outside the breast, one or more of the lymph nodes under the arm are removed and checked in the lab. This is an important part of staging. If the lymph nodes contain cancer cells, there is a higher chance that cancer cells have also spread to other parts of the body. More imaging tests may be done if this is the case.

Lymph node removal can be done in different ways, depending on whether any lymph nodes are enlarged, how big the breast tumor is, and other factors.

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Summary Of Surgery Timing

Though we don’t have a solid answer on how soon surgery should be done after a diagnosis of breast cancer , it would seem earlier surgery is ideal .

Delaying for a lengthy period of time can be dangerous, with studies finding that those who delay over six months are twice as likely to die from the disease. This is important to keep in mind for those who have breast lumps they are “observing” without a clear diagnosis. Any breast lump needs to be explained.

What Is A Primary Tumor

The primary tumor refers to the original breast tumor. So, any metastases are either secondary tumors, or simply metastatic breast cancer.

Note, when breast cancer spreads to the bones, it is not bone cancer, it is metastatic breast cancer in the bones.

Metastatic describes a breast cancer that has already spread to distant areas and organs of the body. Metastatic cancer is the most advanced stage of breast cancer. Furthermore, the most common sites for breast cancer to metastasize to are the:-

  • bones
  • liver
  • lungs.

Once breast cancer is at this most advanced metastatic stage, the odds of completely curing the breast cancer are quite low. .

The treatment of metastatic breast cancer, after a reasonable effort, will often focus on the quality of life and relieving symptoms rather than a cure.

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What Does Stage 3 Mean

Because stage 3 breast cancer has spread outside the breast, it can be harder to treat than earlier stage breast cancer, though that depends on a few factors.

With aggressive treatment, stage 3 breast cancer is curable however, the risk that the cancer will grow back after treatment is high.

Doctors further divide stage 3 cancer into the following stages:

Cu Cancer Center Member Anosheh Afghahi Md Explains Whats Going On And How Doctors Are Dealing With The Problem

NHS breast screening: helping you decide

The COVID-19 vaccines are beginning to significantly slow the spread of the virus, but the Pfizer and Moderna and vaccines are having an unforeseen consequence for breast cancer doctors. The vaccines often cause swelling in the armpit or underarm that can mimic the lumps associated with breast cancer, causing some women undue concern.

Medical oncologist and University of Colorado Cancer Center member Anosheh Afghahi, MD, has encountered the problem in her own practice in the following discussion she explains what is happening and what providers are doing about it.

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Which Cancers Are Treated With Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy drugs have been approved to treat many types of cancer. However, immunotherapy is not yet as widely used as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. To learn about whether immunotherapy may be used to treat your cancer, see the PDQ® adult cancer treatment summaries and childhood cancer treatment summaries.

What Tests Do Physicians Use To Diagnose Breast Cancer

Although the above signs and symptoms can diagnose breast cancer, the use of screening mammography has made it possible to detect many of the cancers early before they cause any symptoms.

The American Cancer Society has the following recommendations for breast cancer screenings:

Women should have the choice to begin annual screening between 40-44 years of age. Women age 45 and older should have a screening mammogram every year until age 54. Women 55 years of age and older should have biennial screening or have the opportunity to continue screening annually. Women should continue screening mammography as long as their overall health is good and they have a life expectancy of 10 years or longer.

Mammograms are a very good tool for breast cancer screening. As with any test, mammograms have limitations and will miss some cancers. Patients should discuss their family history and mammogram and breast exam results with their health care provider.

The ACS does not recommend clinical screening exams in women of any age.

Women at high risk should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderate risk should talk to their doctor about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram.

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The Bottom Line: Timely Treatment Is Better Than Delay

I realize that these two studies are about as close to Well, duh! studies as there are. Of course, delaying surgery for breast cancer is not a good thing. Of course, delaying chemotherapy when its indicated is also not a good thing. These are results that are not unexpected. However, these studies are still very important because they give us estimates of how much of a delay is safe and at what point delaying care starts to have a measurable impact on patient outcomes. Putting the results of these studies together suggests that its best to do surgery within about 60 days in patients not needing chemotherapy first, and that for patients with disease lacking the estrogen and progesterone receptor its best to start chemotherapy within 90 days of surgery.

We can thus reassure anxious patients who want their surgery tomorrow while at the same time tell patients balking at surgery or chemotherapy how long they can safely wait before the delay starts adversely affecting their chances of survival. Unfortunately, in my practice, due to the socioeconomic status of a lot of patients, by the time some of my patient see me its already been more than 30 days since their biopsy and diagnosis.

Outcome Analysis Of Breast Cancer Patients Who Declined Evidence

Back to Work After Breast Cancer Surgery

Here is the recent paper I referred to above, which studied women with breast cancer in Northern Alberta who refused standard treatments. It was also a chart review with a matched pair analysis that compared survival with those that received conventional cancer care. Between 1980 and 2006 they identified 185 women that refused cancer care following diagnosis by biopsy. Women older than 75 were excluded from the analysis because this population is generally not included in clinical trials and active treatment regimens. In addition, women that accepted surgery, but rejected chemotherapy/radiation were excluded from the analysis. To qualify, women had to have rejected all conventional care. The final population studied was 87 women, most of whom presented with early disease. Most were married, over the age of 50, and urban residents. In this group, the primary treatment was CAM in 58%, and was unknown in the remainder. Some women in this group eventually accepted cancer care, and the average delay was 20-30 weeks due to CAM use.

The results were grim. The 5 year overall survival was 43% for women that declined cancer care, and 86% for women that received conventional cancer care. For cancer-specific survival survival was 46% vs. 85% in those that took cancer care. The survival curves are ugly:

All causes of deaths and deaths due to breast cancer only

The authors compared the CAM group to those where treatment plan was not known:

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How Does The Doctor Know I Have Breast Cancer

A change seen on your mammogram may be the first sign of breast cancer. Or you may have found a lump or other change in your breast.

The doctor will ask you questions about your health and will do a physical exam. A breast exam is done to look for changes in the nipples or the skin of your breasts. The doctor will also check the lymph nodes under your arm and above your collarbone. Swollen or hard lymph nodes might mean breast cancer has spread there.

If signs are pointing to breast cancer, more tests will be done. Here are some of the tests you may need:

Mammogram: This is an x-ray of the breast. Mammograms are mostly used to find breast cancer early. But another mammogram might be done to look more closely at the breast problem you might have.

MRI scan: MRIs use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays to make detailed pictures. MRIs can be used to learn more about the size of the cancer and look for other tumors in the breast.

Breast ultrasound: For this test, a small wand is moved around on your skin. It gives off sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off tissues. The echoes are made into a picture that you can see on a computer screen. Ultrasound can help the doctor see if a lump is a fluid-filled cyst , or if it’s a tumor that could be cancer.

Nipple discharge exam: If you have fluid coming from your nipple, some of it may be sent to a lab. There, it will be checked to see if there are cancer cells in it.

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