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How Long Does Breast Cancer Treatment Last

What Happens During Lumpectomy Surgery

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The lumpectomy surgery itself should take about 15-40 minutes.

Your surgeon will probably operate with a kind of electric scalpel that uses heat to minimize bleeding . Most surgeons use curved incisions that follow the natural curve of your breast and allow for better healing. If the tumor can be seen or felt, the surgeon will remove it along with a rim of healthy tissue around it.

Sometimes, but not always, a rubber tube called a drain will be surgically inserted into your breast area or armpit to collect excess fluid that can accumulate in the space where the tumor was. The drain is connected to a plastic bulb that creates suction to help remove fluid. Finally, your surgeon will stitch the incision closed and dress the wound.

Dog Breast Cancer Prognosis: What To Expect

One of the most significant factors that affect your pets prognosis and life expectancy is early detection.

  • Benign or malignant: A dog with a benign tumor has a far better prognosis than a malignant tumor. Benign tumors grow at a much slower rate and therefore are easier to treat.
  • Size of the tumor: The earlier a tumor is detected, the smaller it will be in size, and the better your dogs chances of survival.
  • Metastasis: The spread of malignant tumors can result in a significantly poorer prognosis. The spread of a carcinoma or malignant tumor to the lymph nodes usually indicates an unfortunately low survival rate . The lymph nodes connect to several major body organs, which could decrease your pets survival time should the cancer reach them.
  • Ulceration: Ulceration is a sign of a highly malignant tumor, possibly inflammatory carcinoma . Its usually a sign of a poor prognosis.
  • Age: The older the dog, the greater the possibility of developing multiple tumors, decreasing overall life expectancy.

Mammary cancer in dogs progresses in stages and the later your dog is treated, the lower its chance of survival.

Stage 4 Breast Cancer

A person with stage 4 breast cancer has cancer that has spread not only to the nearby lymph nodes but also to more distant lymph nodes and other organs in the body.

Stage 4 breast cancer is the most advanced stage. It is also known as secondary or metastatic breast cancer. Stage 4 breast cancer may be recurrent breast cancer that has now spread to other parts of a persons body.

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A Breast Hematoma May Leave Scar Tissue When It Resolves

As hematomas tend to resolve on their own, the mass will likely not show up on a follow-up mammogram. However, as they dissipate, fibrous tissue can grow in the area of the former hematoma. This can give an appearance of a proliferative growth which could possibly indicate breast cancer cell growth.

This is not unexpected, but will still require the screening doctors to take a closer look. Usually, this residual fibrous-scar tissue will appear as architectural distortion on the mammogram. What is this? Well, it is an oddly arranged segment of breast tissue with a spikey outline.

These sorts of focal asymmetries are very common and occur in about 60% of all breast hematomas, and an ultrasound will usually be sufficient to make the situation clear. But sometimes even the ultrasound can be inconclusive.

The transitional nature of hematomas can present as a strange combination of liquid and solid elements. Because, if you imagine a bruise, they change appearance over time. If there is any uncertainty, a biopsy may be necessary.

Immunotherapy As An Emerging Treatment

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Immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment option, and while it hasnt been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for breast cancer yet, its a promising area.

Immunotherapy works by raising the bodys natural defenses to fight off the cancer. It has fewer side effects than chemotherapy and is less likely to cause resistance.

Pembrolizumab is an immune checkpoint inhibitor. Its a type of immunotherapy that has shown particular promise in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

It works by blocking specific antibodies that make it harder for the immune system to fight the cancer. This allows the body to fight back more efficiently. A 2016 study found 37.5 percent of patients with triple-negative breast cancer saw a benefit from the therapy.

Because immunotherapy isnt FDA approved yet, treatment is mostly available through clinical trials at this time.

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Weeks And Months After Lumpectomy

As nerves regrow, you may feel a weird crawly sensation, you may itch, and you may be very sensitive to touch. Your discomfort may go away by itself, or it may persist but you adapt to it. Acetaminophen or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen usually can address the pain related to this type of nerve injury. Opioids also can be used to treat this type of pain.

How Quickly Do Breast Cancer Tumors Grow From Stage To Stage

Cancer cells divide and multiply quickly in such a way that as a tumor gets bigger, it divides and grows even faster. The average doubling time for breast cancer tumors is between 50 and 200 days. Breast cancer tumor growth rate is impacted by hormonal factors, such as hormone receptor status and HER2 status.

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Sex Contraception And Pregnancy

You can still have sex during treatment. Its thought that chemotherapy drugs cant pass into vaginal fluids or semen, but this cant be completely ruled out as chemotherapy drugs can pass into the blood and some other body fluids. Most treatment teams will advise using barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms during treatment, and for a few days after chemotherapy is given.

If you havent been through the menopause, its important to use contraception because chemotherapy drugs can harm a developing baby in the first three months of pregnancy. Its still possible to become pregnant even if your periods become irregular or stop completely.

Your specialist will usually recommend barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms. The contraceptive pill is not usually recommended because it contains hormones. Emergency contraception such as the morning after pill can still be used.

An interuterine device can be used as long as its not the type that releases hormones. If you have a coil in place that does release hormones, such as the Mirena or Jaydess, when youre diagnosed, you may be advised to have this removed.

Find out more about how breast cancer and its treatment can affect sex and intimacy and read our tips on how to manage these changes.

Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer

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About 2 of every 3 breast cancer cases are hormone-receptor positive. This means the breast cancer cells grow by attaching to hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Hormone therapy, also called endocrine therapy, stops these hormones from attaching to cancer cells, thus stopping their spread.

There are different types of hormone therapy but most work by altering levels of estrogen and preventing estrogen from connecting to cancer cells.

Hormone therapy is most often used after surgery to reduce the risk of cancer returning but is sometimes used before surgery. Its a long-term treatment taken for at least 5 to 10 years.

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What About My Physical And Emotional Wellness

Eating a healthy diet including a variety of foods will ensure you have what your body needs to cope with treatment and recovery. Regular physical activity can improve your recovery and reduce side effects such as fatigue.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for professional and emotional support.
  • Consider joining a cancer support group.
  • Learn to ignore unwanted advice and “horror stories”.
  • Live day-to-day and remember that every day is likely to be different.

Complementary therapies can work alongside medical treatments and some have been shown to improve quality of life or reduce pain. There is no evidence that these therapies can cure or prevent cancer. Some have not been tested for side effects, may work against other medical treatments and may be expensive. Talk with your doctor about using complementary therapies. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact your doctor.

How Will I Know If The Chemotherapy Treatments Are Working

Some people may think that their chemotherapy treatment is not working if they do not experience side effects. However, this is a myth.

If you are receiving adjuvant chemotherapy , it is not possible for your doctor to directly determine whether the treatment is working because there are no tumor cells left to assess. However, adjuvant chemotherapy treatments have been proven helpful in studies in which some women were given chemotherapy, while others were not. If you are receiving chemotherapy for metastatic disease, the effects will be monitored, routinely, by blood tests, scans, and/or other imaging studies. These may include CT scans, bone scans, and/or X-rays).

After completing adjuvant chemotherapy, your doctor will evaluate your progress through periodic physical examinations, routine mammography, and appropriate testing if a new problem develops.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/05/2013.


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Are Some Therapies More Effective Based On Stage

The type of radiation treatment you get depends on the stage of breast cancer. People with early to stage 3 breast cancer will benefit most from radiation treatment. Radiation can also help ease side effects in people with advanced breast cancer.

External whole breast radiation works best:

  • for early stage to stage 3 breast cancer
  • for tumors that are an inch or smaller
  • if the cancer is in one spot
  • if you had breast-saving surgery or a mastectomy

External beam radiation can also help treat side effects of advanced breast cancer.

Internal radiation works best:

  • for early stage breast cancer
  • if the cancer is in one spot
  • if you had breast-saving surgery or a mastectomy

Sometimes, a person with advanced breast cancer will have internal radiation.

Intraoperative radiation works best:

  • during early stage breast cancer
  • when the tumor is too close to healthy tissue for external radiation to be possible

Not everyone can have intraoperative radiation or internal beam radiation. Whether you can have these procedures depends on:

  • size and location of the tumor
  • size of your breast

Who Can And Cannot Take Letrozole

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Letrozole can be taken by adults only .

Letrozole is not suitable for some people. Tell your doctor before starting on this medicine if you:

  • have had an allergic reaction to letrozole or any other medicines in the past
  • still have periods
  • are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding
  • have serious kidney or liver disease
  • have been told you have fragile or brittle bones

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Signs Breast Cancer Has Spread

Your doctor may use several imaging tests to determine if your cancer has spread. An ultrasound, CT scan or MRI are the most common tests to see if cancer has spread to other organs. You may also receive a chest x-Ray to see if the cancer has reached your lungs.

For more advanced imaging, your doctor can order a PET scan in which a radioactive sugar travels through your body before images are taken where the sugar collects. Similarly, a bone scan uses a radioactive substance to determine if cancer has spread to your bones. Bone scans can pick up cancer cells that may not show on other scans.

However, it is not uncommon to not need any additional imaging to check for tumor spread. You should work with your doctor to decide which imaging, if any, is best.

How Soon After A Breast Cancer Diagnosis Should You Have Surgery

Breast cancer surgery is often the first course of treatment. In some cases, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy first to help shrink larger cancer cells.

Surgery should come within a few weeks of diagnosis. Research shows the sooner you receive surgery, the better the overall prognosis. For example, a study showed women ages 15 to 39 who had surgery within two weeks had a 84 percent five-year survival rate compared to a 78 percent five-year survival rate for women who waited six weeks or more until surgery. Overall, the optional time for surgery after diagnosis is less than 90 days.

Lumpectomy, mastectomy and lymph node removal are three common surgical procedures to treat breast cancer. A lumpectomy is a breast-conserving procedure in which only a part of the breast that contains cancer cells is removed. A mastectomy removes the entire breast. Some women also undergo a double mastectomy to remove both breasts.

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Cancer Is The Disease Of

Cancer is the disease of abnormal cells uncontrollably divide and destroy body tissue. One major treatment used to help kill the cancer cells in the body in chemotherapy, and people with cancers such as breast cancer usually have to go through a few rounds of radiation. The way doctors know how to schedule one for chemotherapy is based upon the cells and the rate that cell division occurs. Anti-neoplastic drugs are divided into classes on how the medication will kill the cancer. Since chemotherapy does not know the difference between cancerous cells and normal cells, the normal cells will grow back but there are many side effects in between that time.

According to the American Cancer Society, some people may have long term side effects while others will not. Some long term side effects include heart and/or nerve damage and fertility complications. A common effect to chemotherapy is anemia, which occurs when the body is not producing enough red blood cells, and causes the patient to feel fatigued. There are many other symptoms of anemia such as feeling cold, pale skin, being light headed, and even having difficulty thinking. Blood count monitoring is very critical when going through chemotherapy because the patients red blood count could be low or the white blood count could be low.

Time To Treatment With Metastatic Breast Cancer

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There is little research looking at the optimal time until treatment for metastatic breast cancer, though it appears that waiting more than 12 weeks has been linked with lower survival. In general, however, the goal of treatment with MBC is different than early stage disease. For most people, treatment for early-stage disease is aggressive, with the goal to reduce the risk of recurrence. With MBC, the goal is often to use the least amount of treatment necessary to control the disease.

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The Stages Of Breast Cancer And Your Treatment Options

Compared to most other cancers, staging breast cancer is more complex. And when it comes to treating breast cancer, there isnt a one-size-fits-all approach. Your treatment plan should be created especially for you and be coordinated across specialists and thats where your cancer care team comes in.

At HealthPartners, we believe cancer treatment and care is best managed by a group of doctors and specialists in whats known as multidisciplinary conferences. This is where breast surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pathologists and other members of your care team gather to discuss the best treatment sequence for you.

Below we dive into the treatment options your care team might recommend at various breast cancer stages.

How Long Does It Take To Cure Stage 1 Breast Cancer

Even so, going through treatment for stage 1 breast cancer is not easy. Side effects are common, especially with chemotherapy, and fatigue is almost universal. After your initial breast cancer treatment is over, expect follow-up care to last another five years or possibly more. 23 On-going treatments depend on multiple factors and may include:

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Why Does My Provider Need To Test The Metastatic Tumor

Your care team will test the metastases to figure out the biology of the tumor, which can help guide your treatment plan. Providers may test tumors for:

  • Hormone receptor status: If the cancer is hormone receptor-positive, hormonal therapy may be your first treatment.
  • HER2 status: Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 is a protein that is overexpressed on some breast cancer cells. HER2-positive cancer responds to specific HER2-targeted therapies.
  • PIK3CA gene mutation: If a tumor is hormone receptor-positive and HER2-negative, your provider may test for this gene mutation. Specific targeted therapies can be used to treat tumors with this mutation.
  • PD-L1 status: Tumors that are hormone receptive-negative and HER2-negative may be tested for PD-L1 status. If the PD-L1 test is positive, you may be recommended to receive a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy.

Hormones Involved In Breast Cancer

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The presence or absence of the hormones estrogen, progesterone and HER2 are critical in determining how to treat breast cancer.

Patients who test positive for these hormones often have a better prognosis because the cancer is easier to treat. The treatment involves hormone-blocking drugs that help stunt the growth and shrink cancer cells. In some cases, patients are negative for all three proteins, known as triple-negative breast cancer.

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What Are The Chances Of Breast Cancer Recurrence After Treatment For Stage 2 Breast Cancer

In women who have breast-conserving treatment, the chance of recurrence is about 3-15% in 10 years, depending on tumor characteristics and margins. Distant recurrence in those who had mastectomy is most influenced by axillary lymph node involvement. When axillary lymph nodes are not cancerous, the recurrence rate is 6% in 5 years. When axillary lymph nodes are cancerous, the recurrence rate is 23% in 5 years with mastectomy but no radiation.

Fear Of Cancer Coming Back

After treatment, many people might be afraid that their cancer will come back . You may become concerned about new symptoms youre having and wonder if theyre related to breast cancer.

Its important to talk with your healthcare provider about any new symptoms you notice. Many of these issues are normal parts of healing and your body returning to a new normal after breast cancer treatment. Your healthcare team is always available to discuss your concerns or fears with you.

You can call or send messages to your doctor or nurse through MyMSK . It may also be helpful to talk with a social worker, therapist, or chaplain. You can also join a support group. For more information, read MSK Support Services.

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