The Importance Of Screening
If youve been diagnosed with breast cancer, and especially if you have higher risk due to a hereditary gene mutation or other factors, screening can mean earlier detection of a recurrence or new breast cancer. Regular breast cancer screenings have been shown to reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer and increase survival rates.
Talk with your healthcare team about the type of screening plan thats best for you.
Below you can find articles, personal stories, and downloadable resources with more information about diagnosis, talking with family, and finding emotional support.
Relative Survival Rate By Stage
The survival rates by stage are based on the stage at the time of diagnosis. Youve probably been given a number and letter for your cancer stage. Here, the terms localized, regional, and distant are used instead of numbers and letters. Heres what they mean and the 5-year relative survival rates for each:
- Localized breast cancer is only in the breast. This includes stage IA , some IIA , and some IIB . The 5-year relative survival rate is 99%.
- Regional breast cancer has spread to nearby tissue or lymph nodes. This includes stage IB , some IIA , some IIB , and all stage III . The 5-year relative survival rate is 86%.
- Distant breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This includes stage IV, pronounced stage 4). The 5-year relative survival rate is 28%.
What Are Symptoms Of Triple Negative Breast Cancer
TNBC symptoms are the same as other common breast cancers. And many breast cancer symptoms are similar to other less serious conditions. That means having certain symptom doesnt mean you have breast cancer. Possible breast cancer symptoms include:
- A new lump or mass.
- Swelling in all or part of a breast.
- Dimpled skin.
- Nipple retraction, when your nipple turns inward.
- Nipple or breast skin thats dry, flaking, thickened or red.
- Nipple discharge that is not breast milk.
- Swollen lymph nodes. This symptom happens when breast cancer spreads to the lymph nodes under your arm or near your collarbone.
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Metastatic Breast Cancer Is Terminal
Metastatic breast cancer cant be cured and it is terminal. One thing I didnt know when I was first diagnosed is that breast cancer can only kill you if you have metastatic breast cancer, says Rosen, who explains that if your cancer remains in the breast, the tumor can be removed, but metastatic means it has spread outside the breast.
MBC is almost like a different disease than early-stage breast cancer, adds Ann Silberman, 60, from Sacramento, California, who was diagnosed in 2009. We are going to die. Our concerns are much different from those of a person who has a treatment that will be over . Someone in an earlier stage may worry about losing their hair which is understandable but they will return to their normal life at some point.
People with metastatic breast cancer expect to be on treatment for the rest of their lives. I dont think everyone understands that, Silberman says. I still get, When will your treatment be over? Well, its never going to be over.
Survival Rates By Stage
Breast cancer survival rates compare the number of women with breast cancer to the number of women in the overall population to estimate the amount of time women with breast cancer are likely to live after theyre diagnosed.
For example, if the survival rate for a stage of breast cancer during a 5-year period is 90 percent, it means that women diagnosed with that cancer are 90 percent as likely to survive for 5 years following their diagnosis as women who do not have the cancer.
As we mentioned earlier, survival rates are based on information from the SEER database, which the NCI maintains.
SEER does not group breast cancers by stages 0 through 4. Instead, it groups them by the following stages:
- localized: when the cancer has not spread outside of the breast
- regional: when its spread outside the breast to nearby structures or lymph nodes
- distant: when its spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, or bones
It should be noted that theres a substantial racial disparity gap in survival rates between white women and Women of Color, especially for late-stage breast cancer diagnoses. The chart below, courtesy of the
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The Use Of Triple Therapy Does It Have A Role In Dcis
It has been suggested, in the past, that triple therapy for DCIS reduces the risk of local recurrence of invasive breast cancer by 8% to 9%..
Despite some medical studies suggesting that there is a role for anti-hormonal therapy for DCIS a recent 2016 medical review questions this opinion.
Tjalma, from the above study, suggests that treatment with an anti-hormonal therapy, such as Tamoxifen or Anastrozole, for women with DCIS increased morbidity but did not reduce mortality.
A 2014 review of the use of Tamoxifen, as opposed to no additional treatment in DCIS patients, showed a reduction in the risk of new DCIS events in the same and opposite breast.
There was also a signigicant reduction in breast cancers in the opposite breast. However, there was no significant reduction in invasive breast cancers in the affected breast after Tamoxifen use.
Tjalma argues that the decision to give hormone therapy is questionable because it has no effect on mortality and does have significant side effects that can affect the quality of life.
Understanding Breast Cancer Survival Rates
Prognosis varies by stage of breast cancer.
Non-invasive and early-stage invasive breast cancers have a better prognosis than later stage cancers .
Breast cancer thats only in the breast and has not spread to the lymph nodes has a better prognosis than breast cancer thats spread to the lymph nodes.
The poorest prognosis is for metastatic breast cancer . This is when the cancer has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body.
Learn more about breast cancer treatment.
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I Have Triple Negative Breast Cancer What Can I Do To Help Myself
You already took the first step when you decided to help yourself. Many times cancer makes people feel as if theyve lost control of their lives. Committing to self-care is one way to overcome that feeling. Here are some things you can do during and after your treatment:
- Triple negative breast cancer is a rare and often misunderstood illness. Many people dont realize this cancer cant be treated the same as other breast cancers. As a result, you might feel isolated and alone with your cancer. If that happens, your healthcare provider can direct you to TNBC support groups and programs where you can talk to people who understand your experience.
- Youll probably need or want help while youre going through treatment. Your friends and family likely are anxious to do what they can. Let them know how they can help you.
- If you will need cancer surgery, ask your healthcare provider what to expect immediately after surgery and any follow-up treatment. Knowing what to expect will help you focus on what you can control rather than what you cant control.
- Cancer is stressful. You might find activities such as meditation, relaxation exercises or deep breathing exercises help to ease your stress.
- Chemotherapy treatments might affect your appetite. Try to eat a healthy diet, and talk to a nutritionist if you’re having trouble eating.
- Radiation treatment can leave you feeling exhausted. Plan to rest as much as possible during your treatment.
Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer Curable
Theres currently no cure for stage 4 breast cancer, but with treatments it can be kept under control, often for years at a time.
People with metastatic breast cancer need to receive treatments for the rest of their lives. If a certain treatment stops being effective, another treatment regimen may be tried.
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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
- cancer grade
- cancer type
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:
The Malm Breast Cancer Database
The study cohort consists of all cases of invasive female breast cancer in Malmö, Sweden, diagnosed between 1 January 1961 and 31 December 1991. They were all treated at the same institution, Malmö University Hospital, and no referrals were made to or from the hospital for patients with breast cancer. All residents in Sweden are registered by a unique 10-digit ID number. Breast cancer patients were identified by review of clinical notes and record-linkage with the Swedish Cancer Registry, forming the basis of the Malmö Breast Cancer Database. This was all completed by one surgeon, who also validated all breast cancer diagnoses by reviewing histological material, X-ray examinations, and medical records . The present study was approved by the regional ethical committee in Lund, Sweden .
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About Those Lymph Nodes
A surgeon will usually take a lymph node biopsy to determine if the breast cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes. This is not always necessary, however. A lymph node biopsy is not usually necessary for DCIS. However, for invasive breast cancer, yes, they do need to check the lymph nodes.
Sometimes, doctors will perform a sentinel node biopsy, rather than a full lymph node excisional biopsy if the concerns about cancer spread are minimal. Cancer cells tend to appear first in the sentinel node before spreading to the other nodes, or other areas of the body.
How Long Can You Live With Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Many patients and caregivers wonder, is stage 4 breast cancer curable, or is stage 4 breast cancer always terminal? This can depend on many factors such as the subtype of disease and the extent of metastasis. Despite stage 4 cancer being the least likely to be cured or go in remission, many patients live for several years after a diagnosis of metastatic cancer. In rare cases, some patients will end up beating metastatic breast cancer. However, once breast cancer is in stage 4, it has spread to other tissues and organs around the body, which can make it more difficult to treat.
How Is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Diagnosed
The first step might be a mammogram to evaluate a suspicious mass or lump in your breast. Based on what they learn, healthcare providers might perform a biopsy to remove breast tissue. Then they examine the tissues cells to determine the cancer subtype. Identifying the cancer subtype is part of the staging process, which is when providers decide how to treat your cancer.
Sometimes providers use the following tests before treatment to check on your tumors size and whether it has spread, or after treatment to monitor response to treatment:
Mortality Rates Versus Number Of Breast Cancer Deaths
Sometimes its useful to have an estimate of the number of people expected to die from breast cancer in a year. This numbers helps show the burden of breast cancer in a group of people.
Numbers, however, can be hard to compare to each other. To compare mortality in different populations, we need to look at mortality rates rather than the number of breast cancer deaths.
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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.
Our Advice To Other Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer: Be Nice To Yourself
Give yourself a break! is the advice that Sendelbach offers. Stop negative self-talk about what you should have done but didnt do, she says. If you have MBC, you need to be kind and loving to yourself.
The body has only so much energy to offer per day, and managing metastatic breast cancer requires a lot of it. So it doesnt make sense to try to compare what youre able to do with what your cancer-free friends are accomplishing.
Just getting through the day can be hard, Sendelbach says. Getting rid of those not good enough feelings can lift a huge weight off you.
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Living With Stage : The Breast Cancer No One Understands
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.
How Quickly Does Breast Cancer Grow
Breast cancer has to divide 30 times before it can be felt. Up to the 28th cell division, neither you nor your doctor can detect it by hand. With most breast cancers, each division takes one to two months, so by the time you can feel a cancerous lump, the cancer has been in your body for two to five years.
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Statistics Dont Account For Late Recurrences
When comparing triple-negative breast cancer to positive tumors, its important to keep in mind late recurrences. Most statistics are presented as five-year survival rate, and in this setting, triple-negative breast cancer can look more ominous. But looking at longer periods of time, say 20 years following diagnosis, this may be different.
Survival Statistics For Breast Cancer
Survival statistics for breast cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular persons chances of survival.
There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for breast cancer and what they mean to you.
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What Is The Life Expectancy For Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Stage 4 breast cancer life expectancy can vary depending on several factors. The following factors can affect your life expectancy with metastatic breast cancer:
- Amount of hormone receptors and HER2 receptors on cancerous cells
- Tissues that the cancer has affected
There is still not a clear answer for how long can you live with stage 4 breast cancer because it can vary greatly from patient to patient. Other factors such as past and current treatments being used also can have an effect on the life expectancy for patients.
Ovarian Ablation Or Suppression
In women who have not yet experienced the menopause, oestrogen is produced by the ovaries.
Ovarian ablation or suppression stops the ovaries working and producing oestrogen.
Ablation can be done using surgery or radiotherapy. It permanently stops the ovaries from working and means youâll experience the menopause early.
Ovarian suppression involves using a medicine called goserelin, which is a luteinising hormone-releasing hormone agonist .
Your periods will stop while youâre taking it, although they should start again once your treatment is complete.
If youâre approaching the menopause , your periods may not start again after you stop taking goserelin.
Goserelin comes as an injection you have once a month.
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Symptoms Of Metastatic Breast Cancer
The symptoms of stage 4 breast cancer depend on the location of the cancer and where it has spread in your body.
- If breast cancer has spread to your bones, you may notice a sudden new bone pain. Breast cancer most commonly spreads to your ribs, spine, pelvis, or arm and leg bones.
- If it has spread to your brain, you may experience headaches, vision or speech changes, or memory problems.
- Breast cancer that has spread to your lungs or liver usually causes no symptoms.
The main treatments for stage 4 breast cancer are targeted drug therapies that destroy cancer cells wherever they are in your body.
These treatments may include:
- hormone therapy, which stops or slows the growth of tumors by preventing your body from producing hormones or interfering with the effect of hormones on breast cancer cells
- chemotherapy, where drugs given orally or through an IV travel through your bloodstream to fight cancer cells
- immunotherapy, which uses drugs that stimulate your immune system to destroy cancer cells
- a combination of these therapies
The following are the common treatment options for different types of stage 4 breast cancer.