How Is The Stage Determined
The staging system most often used for breast cancer is the American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM system. The most recent AJCC system, effective January 2018, has both clinical and pathologic staging systems for breast cancer:
- The pathologic stage is determined by examining tissue removed during an operation.
- Sometimes, if surgery is not possible right away or at all, the cancer will be given a clinical stage instead. This is based on the results of a physical exam, biopsy, and imaging tests. The clinical stage is used to help plan treatment. Sometimes, though, the cancer has spread further than the clinical stage estimates, and may not predict the patients outlook as accurately as a pathologic stage.
In both staging systems, 7 key pieces of information are used:
- The extent of the tumor : How large is the cancer? Has it grown into nearby areas?
- The spread to nearby lymph nodes : Has the cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes? If so, how many?
- The spread to distant sites : Has the cancer spread to distant organs such as the lungs or liver?
- Estrogen Receptor status: Does the cancer have the protein called an estrogen receptor?
- Progesterone Receptor status: Does the cancer have the protein called a progesterone receptor?
- HER2 status: Does the cancer make too much of a protein called HER2?
- Grade of the cancer : How much do the cancer cells look like normal cells?
In addition, Oncotype Dx® Recurrence Score results may also be considered in the stage in certain situations.
Phase Iii Embrca Trial
In the pivotal phase 3 study EMBRCA, authors investigated talazoparib in 431 patients with gBRCA mutations and MBC. Approximately half of patients had TNBC with the remainder having ER/PR-positive breast cancer. Patients had a median of 2 prior lines of chemotherapy and were randomised in a 2:1 manner to receive talazoparib vs physicians choice . Median PFS was greater in the talazoparib group compared to the control group-8.6 mo vs 5.6 mo with an objective response rate of 62.6% vs 27.2%. Benefit within the TNBC and HR positive subgroups was equivalent. Crucially however, median OS was not significantly greater in the talazoparib group compared to the placebo group . Patients in the talazoparib group did however have improved health related quality of life outcomes. More than a quarter of patients suffered from a grade 3 or grade 4 adverse event in the talazoparib group which was similar to the control group . Notably, one patient suffered from the rare but well described PARPi toxicity of acute myeloid leukaemia.
M Categories For Breast Cancer
M followed by a 0 or 1 indicates whether the cancer has spread to distant organs — for example, the lungs, liver, or bones.
M0: No distant spread is found on x-rays or by physical exam.
cM0: Small numbers of cancer cells are found in blood or bone marrow , or tiny areas of cancer spread are found in lymph nodes away from the underarm, collarbone, or internal mammary areas.
M1: Cancer has spread to distant organs as seen on imaging tests or by physical exam, and/or a biopsy of one of these areas proves cancer has spread and is larger than 0.2mm.
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What Can I Expect From Surgery And Radiation
As with basically anything else in life, not everyone has the same experiences with surgery and radiation. There are still a few general things to know.
Lumpectomies are usually outpatient procedures with an estimated recovery time of about two weeks, the ACS says. After a mastectomy, on the other hand, youll probably spend one or two nights in the hospital before returning home. Full recovery can take up to four weeks, though it can be longer , according to the ACS.
Typical side effects for both procedures are similar, including pain, tenderness, and swelling. Its estimated that 20 to 30 percent of people experience a more intense and chronic type of shooting pain in their chest, armpit, or arm afterward. This is known as post-mastectomy pain syndrome , although it can also follow lumpectomies. Ask your doctor about how to know if thats what youre experiencing and how to manage it. You might also need a temporary drain under your arms to help remove fluid after a lumpectomy or mastectomy, which your doctor will show you how to clean. Theyll also talk to you about how to spot signs of infection.
Is There Any Way To Make Chemo Easier To Get Through
Chemotherapy is often seen as the most intimidating type of cancer treatment thanks to countless movie and TV depictions, but its not always quite as dreadful as it seems. Were not going to pretend that going through chemotherapy is easy, but doctors are working hard to make it as tolerable as possible.
Chemotherapy has a bad reputation, Dr. Mills says. A lot of those preconceptions are not correct. Thanks to modern medicine , a lot of people find that their chemo experience is better than they expected.
When Kirsten Greer was diagnosed with stage 2B triple negative breast cancer in 2013, at age 29, she asked her oncologist how chemotherapy would feel. He told her there would be side effects, but that there were also ways to mitigate them. That was my experience, Greer tells SELF. Id have a couple of down days, but I had a whole group of drugs that helped manage that.
Heres more information on common chemotherapy side effects and how to deal with them. Your doctor may be able to offer up techniques for reducing whichever side effects most concern or impact you.
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The Emerging Concept Of Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Breast cancers are commonly associated with a high incidence and a high mortality rate in the female population worldwide. However, at a microscopic and molecular level, breast cancer is not a homogeneous disease, thus being the focus of numerous ongoing studies. The molecular heterogeneity of the normal breast tissue has been previously documented and has outlined the different molecular profiles of epithelial and non-epithelial cells responsible for the existence of several molecular types of breast carcinomas, already characterized . Starting from the histopathological classification up to the molecular classification, breast cancer has been constantly redefined in order to ensure a better management of the patient. In 2012 Boyle et al. stated that the minimal characterization of breast cancer was a situation that had lasted for a century, until a quiet revolution has taken place so that in modern times breast cancer is characterized by its molecular and clinical heterogeneity .
Can Stage 4 Breast Cancer Go Into Remission
Stage 4 breast cancer can go into remission, meaning that it isnt detected in imaging or other tests. Pathological complete remission indicates a lack of cancer cells in tissues removed after surgery or biopsy.
But its rare to take tissue samples while treating stage 4 breast cancer. This could mean that although treatment has been effective, it hasnt completely destroyed the cancer.
Advances in stage 4 breast cancer treatments are helping to increase the length of remission.
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How Can Immunotherapy Help With Triple
Some immunotherapy uses lab-made proteins, called monoclonal antibodies, to make your own immune system find and destroy cancer cells with a specific antigen or to help your body fight harder against the cancer. Monoclonal antibodies act like human antibodies when introduced to the immune system, usually by IV. But unlike human polyclonal antibodies, monoclonal antibodies are programmed to attach to a specific antigen instead of many.
Roswell Park physicians and researchers are exploring an immunotherapy approach using monoclonal antibodies called checkpoint inhibitors to keep triple-negative breast cancer cells from multiplying. Immune checkpoints are normal parts of your immune system that work as brakes to prevent it from harming healthy cells. But some cancer cells produce checkpoint proteins that stop your immune system from fighting the cancer.
Checkpoint inhibitors are monoclonal antibodies designed to block the checkpoint antigen releasing the brakes so the immune system is free to do its job and fight the foreign cancer cells. Dr. Gandhi and her team are using a monoclonal antibody drug called pembrolizumab, known commercially as Keytruda, to find ways to block the checkpoints in triple-negative breast cancer tumors. They are investigating ways to combine pembrolizumab with other immunotherapy treatments as an optimal way to target the checkpoint protein PD-1 and improve the immune response to triple-negative breast cancer.
Treatment Options For Triple
Typically, triple-negative breast cancer patients will receive a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Research shows that survival rates are higher when chemotherapy is used to shrink the tumor before surgery. Doing chemotherapy before surgery usually means fewer cancer cells in the body at the time time of surgery. This makes it less likely for cancer cells to spread to other areas of the body during the surgery.
Another option to treat triple-negative breast cancer is using drugs that inhibit the poly ADP-ribose polymerase enzyme. Particularly in patients that also test positive for BRCA mutation, PARP inhibitors make it harder for the cancer cells to survive.
Finally, a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy may treat advanced triple-negative breast cancer that tested positive for the PD-L1 protein. Immunotherapy helps the patients immune system work harder to fight the cancer cells, in this case also fighting the PD-L1 protein.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, request an appointment to meet with one of our breast cancer specialists located in the Denver area, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and other areas throughout the Colorado Front Range. We are also happy to quickly schedule a second opinion to help you with making the cancer treatment decision youre confident in.
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Clinicopathologic Features Of Tnbc Tumor In The Elderly
In total, 2037 patients with TNBC treated between 1973 and 2014 were identified and their data used in this analysis. Forty-five percent of the patients were stage I, 38% stage II and 15% stage III . Compared to patients < 70 years old, patients 70 had smaller tumor size, lower number of lymph node metastasis, histological grade and TNM stage . Only one study found that those 70 years old were more likely to have tumors 2 cm .
Do I Need Any Additional Tests
There are two main additional tests doctors sometimes recommend for people with triple negative breast cancer.
The first is genetic testing for mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which can increase your risk of getting breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Doctors might suggest this testing if youre under 50 at the time of diagnosis and/or have a family history of breast and ovarian cancer, especially if a relative was diagnosed under age 50. You can read more about why and when BRCA testing is recommended here.
can affect treatment, it can affect prognosis, it can affect surgical decision-making, Dr. Mills says.
Some studies have found that tumors in people with a BRCA mutation respond particularly well to certain kinds of chemotherapy. Having a BRCA mutation also means you may want to consider having a bilateral mastectomy to remove both breasts and an oophorectomy to remove your ovaries to prevent cancer from developing there in the future. These are all options your doctor can discuss with you in detail.
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When Should I Go To The Emergency Room
You might also have unusually strong side effects from your cancer treatment. While your healthcare provider likely gave you medication to help control your side effects, you should go to the emergency room if your side effects continue despite medication.
Many cancer treatments affect your immune system, increasing the chance you will develop infections. Symptoms that might require an emergency room visit during treatment are:
- Fever of 100.5 and above.
- Persistent nausea and vomiting.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment
Metastatic breast cancer can have different presentations for each patient, and can behave differently from one person to the next. But for most, individualized treatment can slow the spread of cancer, lessen the impact of symptoms or both.
We see patients with a whole host of presentations and degrees of aggressiveness. Were not looking at all metastatic diagnoses with the same lens. When planning treatment and supportive care, we look at each individual patient and consider all aspects of their health and well-being.
The mainstay of therapy in the setting of metastatic disease is systemic therapy, Habibi explains.
Systemic therapies use medicines, and may include:
Local therapy: Examples of this approach include surgery and radiation directed at one or more specific spots where breast cancer has spread. Local therapy can be used to address oligometastatic breast cancer, which is breast cancer that has spread to just one spot or to a limited number of areas.
If a metastatic area remains stable with treatment, it can be treated as a chronic disease, Habibi says, noting that in these situations, the strategy is preventing the cancer from advancing. For oligometastatic breast cancer, he says that a combination of chemotherapy, radiation treatments or surgery to remove cancerous areas can address symptoms and extend life.
Regional therapy includes surgery or radiation to treat metastatic cancer in nearby affected lymph nodes.
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Survival Rates For Triple
Triple-negative breast cancer is considered an aggressive cancer because it grows quickly, is more likely to have spread at the time its found, and is more likely to come back after treatment than other types of breast cancer. The outlook is generally not as good as it is for other types of breast cancer.
Survival rates can give you an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time after they were diagnosed. They cant tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding of how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.
Keep in mind that survival rates are estimates and are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific cancer, but they cant predict what will happen in any particular persons case. These statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk with your doctor about how these numbers may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with your situation.
How Common Is Triple Negative Breast Cancer
15% of all breast cancers over 8,000 cases a year in the UK are triple negative.
Triple negative breast cancer is more common in:
- women who have inherited an altered BRCA gene
- black women
- women who have not yet reached the menopause
- women under 40
Some types of breast cancer are more likely to be triple negative than others. These include medullary and metaplastic breast cancer. However, most people with triple negative breast cancer have invasive ductal breast cancer as this is the most common type of breast cancer in general.
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N Categories For Breast Cancer
N followed by a number from 0 to 3 indicates whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes near the breast and, if so, how many lymph nodes are involved.
Lymph node staging for breast cancer is based on how the nodes look under the microscope, and has changed as technology has gotten better. Newer methods have made it possible to find smaller and smaller groups of cancer cells, but experts haven’t been sure how much these tiny deposits of cancer cells influence outlook.
Its not yet clear how much cancer in the lymph node is needed to see a change in outlook or treatment. This is still being studied, but for now, a deposit of cancer cells must contain at least 200 cells or be at least 0.2 mm across for it to change the N stage. An area of cancer spread that is smaller than 0.2 mm doesn’t change the stage, but is recorded with abbreviations that indicate the type of special test used to find the spread.
If the area of cancer spread is at least 0.2 mm , but still not larger than 2 mm, it is called a micrometastasis . Micrometastases are counted only if there aren’t any larger areas of cancer spread. Areas of cancer spread larger than 2 mm are known to influence outlook and do change the N stage. These larger areas are sometimes called macrometastases, but are more often just called metastases.
NX: Nearby lymph nodes cannot be assessed .
N0: Cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes.
N1c: Both N1a and N1b apply.
N3: Any of the following:
Risk Factors For Triple
Doctors aren’t sure what makes you more likely to get triple-negative breast cancer. Not many women do — it only affects up to 20% of those who have breast cancer. You’re most at risk for triple-negative breast cancer if you:
- Are African-American or Latina
- Are under 40
- Have what your doctor will call a BRCA mutation , especially the gene BRCA1
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What Exactly Does My Stage Mean
Maybe you dont want to know anything more than you have to at this point, which is valid. But if you find comfort in getting as much information as possible, it might be helpful to ask your doctor to explain what your stage means in detail. Knowing your exact stage helps you and your doctor determine your treatment plan and can give you an idea of your prognosis, the National Cancer Institute explains.
Doctors can determine your stage through tests on tissue collected via biopsy, imaging, and physical examinations or during surgery, the American Cancer Society explains. Which route makes the most sense will depend on your exact case of breast cancer.
Staging can get pretty detailed and varies based on the exact system your doctor uses, but the most important information staging conveys is if and where the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis, along with details like the tumor grade, meaning how different the cancer cells are from the surrounding cells. This can indicate how quickly the tumor could grow and spread. Also worth noting: Your stage doesnt change over time even if your cancer is treated or spreads.
There are other staging systems, like the TNM classification, which the NCI notes is actually the most widely used by hospitals and medical centers. It categorizes cancer by tumor size if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and whether it has metastasized .