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How Long Is Breast Cancer Treatment

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How long are breast cancer patients waiting for definitive diagnosis and treatment?

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Screening For Breast Cancer

Women aged between 50 and 74 are invited to access free screening mammograms every two years via the BreastScreen Australia Program.

Women aged 40-49 and 75 and over are also eligible to receive free mammograms, however they do not receive an invitation to attend.

It is recommended that women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, aged between 40 and 49 or over 75 discuss options with their GP, or contact BreastScreen Australia on 13 20 50.

Treatment For Stage 2 Breast Cancer

The most common for stage 2 breast cancer is surgery.


In most cases, treatment involves removing the cancer. The person may undergo a lumpectomy or mastectomy. The doctors and the individual can decide based on the size and location of the tumor. The surgeon may also remove one or more lymph nodes.

Combination therapy

A doctor may recommend a combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy to people with stage 2A or 2B breast cancer.

Neoadjuvant therapy

In some cases, a doctor may recommend neoadjuvant therapy, which is chemotherapy before surgery to reduce the size of a tumor.

are 3A, 3B, and 3C.

3A breast cancer is an invasive breast cancer where:

  • There is no tumor in the breast, or a tumor of any size is growing alongside cancer found in four to nine axillary lymph nodes or the lymph nodes by the breastbone.
  • A person has a tumor greater than 5 cm. They also have clusters of breast cancer cells in the lymph nodes that are between 0.22 mm in diameter.
  • The tumor is larger than 5 cm. The cancer has also spread to one to three axillary lymph nodes or the lymph nodes near the breastbone.

Stage 3B breast cancer is invasive breast cancer where:

  • A tumor of any size has spread into the chest wall or skin of the breast, causing swelling or an ulcer to develop.
  • Cancer cells may also be present in to up to nine axillary lymph nodes.
  • They may be present in lymph nodes by the breastbone.

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How Does Ac + T Work

The A part of this chemo cocktail blocks DNA production in your cells, and inhibits the enzymes responsible for repairing DNA. Cells cant live without DNA and die off when theyre deprived of it. In fact, some even kill themselves when their DNA is damaged. While A doesnt distinguish between cancer cells and normal cells, it has a greater negative effect on cancer cells since those cells are dividing so rapidly.

The C part of this chemo combo stops cancer cells from replicating. As for T, it slows or stops cell division, or keeps enzymes from making the proteins cells need in order to grow. So between all three of these drugs, you have some pretty powerful agents working to destroy those cancer cells.

Recommended Reading: What Chemo Drugs Are Used For Triple Negative Breast Cancer

What Happens During Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

How Long Will Breast Cancer Treatment Take?

Most people receive chemotherapy for breast cancer through one of their veins . You may receive chemotherapy as one short injection or as an infusion. Infusions last longer and usually take place in a hospital or specialized infusion center.

When you get to the infusion center, your nurse administers your chemotherapy drugs and any additional medications you need. For example, you may also receive an anti-nausea medication before the chemotherapy drugs.

During the infusion:

  • Your nurse accesses your CVC or starts an IV.
  • You may read, watch television or visit with others during your treatment. Chemotherapy infusions may last a few hours or more.
  • Your nurse flushes the IV line or CVC with a saline solution and removes it.
  • You wait in a recovery area for about 30 minutes to make sure you do not have a negative reaction to treatment.
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    Side Effects Of Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy damages cells as they divide. This makes the drugs effective against cancer cells, which divide rapidly. However, some normal cells such as hair follicles, blood cells and cells inside the mouth or bowel also divide rapidly. Side effects happen when chemotherapy damages these normal cells. Unlike cancer cells, normal cells can recover, so most side effects are temporary.

    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

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    Should I Get A Second Opinion

    A second opinion may confirm your original diagnosis and treatment plan, provide more details about the type and stage of your breast cancer, raise additional treatment options not considered, or lead to a recommendation for a different course of action. A second opinion may also help you feel more confident in your treatment decisions and help you find a doctor you feel comfortable with.

    What To Expect After Chemo

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    Once youâre home, you need to take care of yourself and take steps to manage chemo side effects. These include:

    • Take medications the doctor prescribed for side effects.
    • Stay away from anyone with a cold or infection chemo makes it harder for your body to fight germs.
    • Drink lots of fluids for the first 8 hours to move the medicine through your body.
    • Manage bodily fluids and waste that may have traces of chemo. Usually, this means flushing the toilet twice.

    Youâll see your doctor every 4 to 6 months for the next 5 years after treatment ends.

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    The Grading System Is Used To Describe How Quickly A Breast Tumor Is Likely To Grow And Spread

    The grading system describes a tumor based on how abnormal the cancer cells and tissue look under a microscope and how quickly the cancer cells are likely to grow and spread. Low-grade cancer cells look more like normal cells and tend to grow and spread more slowly than high-grade cancer cells. To describe how abnormal the cancer cells and tissue are, the pathologist will assess the following three features:

    • How much of the tumor tissue has normal breast ducts.
    • The size and shape of the nuclei in the tumor cells.
    • How many dividing cells are present, which is a measure of how fast the tumor cells are growing and dividing.

    For each feature, the pathologist assigns a score of 1 to 3 a score of 1 means the cells and tumor tissue look the most like normal cells and tissue, and a score of 3 means the cells and tissue look the most abnormal. The scores for each feature are added together to get a total score between 3 and 9.

    Three grades are possible:

    • Total score of 3 to 5: G1 .
    • Total score of 6 to 7: G2 .
    • Total score of 8 to 9: G3 .

    Treatment Of Invasive Breast Cancer

    Surgical treatment of invasive breast cancer may consist of lumpectomy or total mastectomy. In breast cancer patients who have clinically negative nodes, surgery typically includes sentinel lymph node dissection for staging the axilla.

    In the AMAROS trial, which involved patients with cT1-2N0 breast cancer up to 5 cm and clinically node-negative axillae who were undergoing either breast conservation or mastectomy with SLN mapping, axillary radiotherapy was found to be a better treatment option than ALN dissection in women with a positive SLN.

    In this study, 744 of the patients with a positive SLN went on to receive ALND, and 681 received axillary radiotherapy. After 5 years of follow-up, the axillary recurrence rate was 0.54% in the ALND group and 1.03% in the radiotherapy group, and there were no significant differences between the groups with respect to either disease-free survival or overall survival . The rate of lymphedema in the ALND group after 5 years, however, was twice the rate seen in the radiotherapy group .

    Also Check: Stage 2 Triple Positive Breast Cancer

    Who Uses Cam Instead Of Medicine

    So how would a decision to accept no treatment, or to only use alternative medicine, compare to conventional cancer care ? And what about delaying conventional cancer care to allow a trial of alternative medicine does it have a measurable effect? Answering this question isnt straightforward. In cancer research, new drugs are typically added to, or follow, established therapies, so all patients receive standard treatment options as part of their care. So we cant ethically randomize patients to nothing, when established treatments exist. But we can answer this question in a different way: Patients that voluntarily opt out of cancer treatment can be followed, and compared to patients that do take cancer treatment. While it isnt a prospective randomization, which would be the gold standard, its the best we can get. But even this approach is difficult. Most patients who decide to opt-out of cancer treatment, also opt-out of any follow-up evaluation. So tracking down patients, and their outcomes, is essential.

    Changes To This Summary

    Breast Cancer Prediction With Deep Learning

    The PDQ cancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated asnew information becomes available. This section describes the latestchanges made to this summary as of the date above.

    Revised to state that in 2022, DCIS is expected to account for about 15% of all newly diagnosed invasive plus noninvasive breast tumors in the United States .

    This summary is written and maintained by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board, which iseditorially independent of NCI. The summary reflects an independent review ofthe literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or NIH. Moreinformation about summary policies and the role of the PDQ Editorial Boards inmaintaining the PDQ summaries can be found on the and PDQ® – NCI’s Comprehensive Cancer Database pages.

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    Time To Treatment With Metastatic Breast Cancer

    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.

    How Much Radiation Therapy Costs

    Radiation therapy can be expensive. It uses complex machines and involves the services of many health care providers. The exact cost of your radiation therapy depends on the cost of health care where you live, what type of radiation therapy you get, and how many treatments you need.

    Talk with your health insurance company about what services it will pay for. Most insurance plans pay for radiation therapy. To learn more, talk with the business office at the clinic or hospital where you go for treatment. If you need financial assistance, there are organizations that may be able to help. To find such organizations, go to the National Cancer Institute database, Organizations that Offer Support Services and search for âfinancial assistance.â Or call toll-free 1-800-4-CANCER to ask for information on organizations that may help.

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    How Soon After Breast Cancer Surgery Do You Start Radiation

    How soon you start radiation depends on if you need chemotherapy. Radiation after surgery usually begins in three to eight weeks. For women undergoing chemotherapy, radiation will start about a month after.

    Depending on your prognosis, radiation can last for days or weeks. Many patients will receive daily treatment for five or six weeks. However, women who dont need radiation for lymph nodes may receive less than a month of radiation. Partial-breast radiation may last only a week.

    Which Surgical Option Do You Recommend Why

    How long does it take to recover from breast cancer surgery?

    To determine which surgical approach may address your needs and treatment goals, your surgical oncologist may rely on information from the radiologist, who reads imaging tests the pathologist, who interprets the biopsy results the radiation oncologist, who works with the surgeon to plan radiation treatment either during or immediately after surgery and the medical oncologist, to predict how preoperative drug treatment may help reduce the size of the tumor. Depending on the biology and genetics of the tumor, your care team may recommend chemotherapy before or after surgery.

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    What Kind Of Treatment Follow

    The major goal of follow-up is, if possible, to detect and treat recurrences in the irradiated breast or lymph nodes and new cancers developing later in either breast before they can spread to other parts of the body. Theroutine use of bone scans, chest x-rays, blood tests and other tests to detect the possible spread to other organs in patients without symptoms does not appear to be useful. Your physician will determine a follow-upschedule for you. This may include a physical exam every few months for the first several years after treatment and then every six to 12 months or so after that. Annual follow-up mammograms are an important part of your care. If symptoms or clinical circumstances suggest a recurrence, diagnostic tests such as blood tests, ultrasound,computed tomography , magnetic resonance imaging , chest x-ray , or bone scan may be needed.

    The Use Of Certain Medicines And Other Factors Decrease The Risk Of Breast Cancer

    Anything that decreases your chance of getting a disease is called a protective factor.

    Protective factors for breast cancer include the following:

    • Taking any of the following:
  • Having any of the following procedures:
  • Mastectomy to reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Oophorectomy to reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Ovarian ablation.
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    Patients Can Enter Clinical Trials Before During Or After Starting Their Cancer Treatment

    Some clinical trials only include patients who have not yet received treatment. Other trials test treatments for patients whose cancer has not gotten better. There are also clinical trials that test new ways to stop cancer from recurring or reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.

    Clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. Information about clinical trials supported by NCI can be found on NCIs clinical trials search webpage. Clinical trials supported by other organizations can be found on the website.

    What Is Breast Cancer

    Infographic: Understanding Breast Cancer Risks

    Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia and the second most common cancer to cause death in women, after lung cancer.

    Breast cancer is the abnormal growth of the cells lining the breast lobules or ducts. These cells grow uncontrollably and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body. Both men and women can develop breast cancer, although it is uncommon in men. Transwomen, non-binary people can also get breast cancer.

    Transgender and gender-diverse people can also get breast cancer. A transgender woman taking medication to lower male hormones and boost female hormones may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

    It is estimated that 19,866 women and 164 men in Australia will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021.

    In Australia, the overall five year survival rate for breast cancer in females is 91%. If the cancer is limited to the breast, 96% of patients will be alive five years after diagnosis this figure excludes those who die from other diseases. If the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, five year relative survival drops to 80%.

    Treatment depends on the extent of the cancer.

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