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What Does Breast Cancer Mean

What Is The Life Expectancy For Each Cancer Stage

What Does Metastatic Breast Cancer Mean To You?

Your outlook depends on the stage of your cancer when its discovered. Cancer is staged by number, starting with 0 and going to 4. Stage 0 is the very beginning and stage 4 is the last stage, also called the metastatic stage because its when cancer has spread to other areas in the body.

Each number reflects different characteristics of your breast cancer. These include the size of the tumor and whether cancer has moved into lymph nodes or distant organs, like the lungs, bones, or brain.

The cancer subtype doesnt play a role in staging, only in treatment decisions.

Survival statistics of women with the major subtypes of breast cancer such as ER-positive, HER2-positive, and triple-negative are grouped together. With treatment, most women with very early stage breast cancers of any subtype can expect a normal life span.

Survival rates are based on how many people are still alive years after they were first diagnosed. Five-year and 10-year survival are commonly reported.

According to the American Cancer Society, 5-year survival rates are:

  • stage 0 100 percent
  • stage 3 72 percent
  • stage 4 22 percent

One thing to note is that these statistics also included women with the more aggressive HER2-positive and triple-negative cancers. And it takes five years to get to a five-year statistical survival rate, so newer therapies are not included in these numbers.

Its likely that a woman with ER-positive breast cancer diagnosed today may have a higher chance of survival.

When Should Someone Seek Medical Care For Breast Cancer

Breast cancer develops over months or years. Once identified, however, a certain sense of urgency is felt about the treatment because breast cancer is much more difficult to treat as it spreads. You should see your health care provider if you experience any of the following:

  • Finding a breast lump
  • Finding a lump in your armpit or above your collarbone that does not go away in two weeks or so
  • Developing nipple discharge
  • Noticing new nipple inversion or skin changes over the breast

Redness or swelling in the breast may suggest an infection of the breast.

  • You should see your health care provider within the next 24 hours to begin treatment.
  • If you have redness, swelling, or severe pain in the breast and are unable to reach your health care provider, this warrants a trip to the nearest emergency department.

If your mammogram spots an abnormality, you should see your health care provider right away to make a plan for further evaluation.

Certain Benign Changes In The Breast

Some changes in the breast seem to increase risk of breast cancer. They include

Having dense breast tissue also makes it harder for doctors to identify breast cancer.

For women with such changes, the risk of breast cancer is increased only slightly unless abnormal tissue structure is detected during a biopsy or they have a family history of breast cancer.

Read Also: What Stage Is Metastatic Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Cell Lines

Part of the current knowledge on breast carcinomas is based on in vivo and in vitro studies performed with cell lines derived from breast cancers. These provide an unlimited source of homogenous self-replicating material, free of contaminating stromal cells, and often easily cultured in simple standard media. The first breast cancer cell line described, BT-20, was established in 1958. Since then, and despite sustained work in this area, the number of permanent lines obtained has been strikingly low . Indeed, attempts to culture breast cancer cell lines from primary tumors have been largely unsuccessful. This poor efficiency was often due to technical difficulties associated with the extraction of viable tumor cells from their surrounding stroma. Most of the available breast cancer cell lines issued from metastatic tumors, mainly from pleural effusions. Effusions provided generally large numbers of dissociated, viable tumor cells with little or no contamination by fibroblasts and other tumor stroma cells.Many of the currently used BCC lines were established in the late 1970s. A very few of them, namely MCF-7, T-47D, MDA-MB-231 and SK-BR-3, account for more than two-thirds of all abstracts reporting studies on mentioned breast cancer cell lines, as concluded from a Medline-based survey.

Metabolic markers

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  • Questions And Answers About Birads

    What Does Breast Cancer Feel Like

    What is birads Category 2

    A bi-rads category 2 means the radiologist saw something that is not cancer. Something benign like a cyst.

    When to use bi rads?

    Only at the moment when a radiologist is finishing a report and needs to assign the findings into a category.

    How accurate are birads?

    Iffy, by which I mean, the words in the report are important, but the birads is an afterthought, and sometimes a clerk or assistant or a technologist just reads the radiologist report and assigns a bi-rads number onto the statistical recording data-entry field.

    How to pronounce bi rads?

    Bi sounds like buy, rads sounds like fads.

    What are bi rads?

    They are a thing to not care about, unless you are a radiologist. Or maybe you meant to type in birds, our feathered friends.

    What is the birads lexicon?

    Good question. This is a major contribution to progress, by limiting the allowable words that describe abnormalities on a report, it standardized things.

    Is there an atlas or a book?

    Yes. ACR-BIRADS Atlas is the name of the official book on the subject, now in fifth edition.

    Does high breast density affect birads?

    Nope. Actually, radiologists were using 4 categories of mammogram density coding before bi rads existed. Only years later, someone said, lets include these 4 breast density definitions into birads. Another factor in breast density is whether the breasts are heterogeneously dense .

    If further investigations are necessary, what will happen?

    Also Check: Locally Advanced Breast Cancer Prognosis

    Why Is Knowing Hormone Receptor Status Important

    Knowing the hormone receptor status of your cancer helps doctors decide how to treat it. If your cancer has one or both of these hormone receptors, hormone therapy drugs can be used to either lower estrogen levels or stop estrogen from acting on breast cancer cells. This kind of treatment is helpful for hormone receptor-positive breast cancers, but it doesnt work on tumors that are hormone receptor-negative .

    All invasive breast cancers should be tested for both of these hormone receptors either on the biopsy sample or when the tumor is removed with surgery. About 2 of 3 breast cancers have at least one of these receptors. This percentage is higher in older women than in younger women. DCIS should be checked for hormone receptors, too.

    What Are The Stages Of Breast Cancer

    There are two different staging systems for breast cancer. One is called anatomic staging while the other is prognostic staging. The anatomic staging is defined by the areas of the body where the breast cancer is found and helps to define appropriate treatment. The prognostic staging helps medical professionals communicate how likely a patient is to be cured of the cancer assuming that all appropriate treatment is given.

    The anatomic staging system is as follows:

    Stage 0 breast disease is when the disease is localized to the milk ducts .

    Stage I breast cancer is smaller than 2 cm across and hasn’t spread anywhere including no involvement in the lymph nodes.

    Stage II breast cancer is one of the following:

    • The tumor is less than 2 cm across but has spread to the underarm lymph nodes .
    • The tumor is between 2 and 5 cm .
    • The tumor is larger than 5 cm and has not spread to the lymph nodes under the arm .

    Stage III breast cancer is also called “locally advanced breast cancer.” The tumor is any size with cancerous lymph nodes that adhere to one another or to surrounding tissue . Stage IIIB breast cancer is a tumor of any size that has spread to the skin, chest wall, or internal mammary lymph nodes .

    Stage IV breast cancer is defined as a tumor, regardless of size, that has spread to areas away from the breast, such as bones, lungs, liver or brain.

    Also Check: Hormone Induced Breast Cancer

    Category 5 Highly Suggestive Of Malignancy

    Doctors assign a category 5 BI-RADS when there is a very high probability of breast cancer. So, your medical advisor will request an immediate biopsy.

    Findings typical of category five include:

  • Typically malignant microcalcifications for example, linear with branching pattern particularly if numerous, clustered and with a segmental distribution
  • Clusters of microcalcifications with a segmental or galactophorous distribution
  • Evolving microcalcifications or associated with an architectural distortion or opacity
  • Clusters of microcalcifications with a segmental or galactophorous distribution
  • Poorly circumscribed opacities with ill-defined and irregular contours
  • Spiculated opacities with radio-opaque center.
  • BI-RADS category 5 is usually reserved for lesions having a 95% probability of malignancy. After biopsy the average rate of carcinoma in category 5 biopsies is about 75-97%.

    Casting microcalcifications appear linear, fragmented, and branching.
    In this image the casting microcalcifications are branched, and granular.

    A Family History Of Breast Cancer

    What does Her2 positive mean

    Having someone in your family with breast cancer doesnt automatically mean your own risk is increased. For most people, having a relative with breast cancer does not increase their risk.

    However, a small number of women and men have an increased risk of developing breast cancer because they have a significant family history.

    Also Check: What Is Stage 3a Breast Cancer

    How Is It Diagnosed

    Breast cancer in lymph nodes is diagnosed during surgery for breast cancer. When you go in for a mastectomy, the surgeon will remove all of the lymph nodes on that side near your affected breast.

    They will either have a microscope in surgery or send them off to the lab to look for cancer cells. If cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes it is called, “lymph node involvement.” At this point, the doctor will be able to determine the best treatment to prevent the spread of cancer beyond these lymph nodes.

    The doctor will let you know how many lymph nodes were taken out and how many of those had cancer cells in them. For instance, if 5 lymph nodes were taken out and 3 had cancer cells they will let you know. You will also be told the severity of the cancer in each node: minimal, significant, or extra-capsular .

    Can Exercise Help Reduce My Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer

    Exercise is a big part of a healthy lifestyle. It can also be a useful way to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer in your postmenopausal years. Women often gain weight and body fat during menopause. People with higher amounts of body fat can be at a higher risk of breast cancer. However, by reducing your body fat through exercise, you may be able to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.

    The general recommendation for regular exercise is about 150 minutes each week. This would mean that you work out for about 30 minutes, five days each week. However, doubling the amount of weekly exercise to 300 minutes can greatly benefit postmenopausal women. The longer duration of exercise allows for you to burn more fat and improve your heart and lung function.

    The type of exercise you do can vary the main goal is get your heart rate up as you exercise. Its recommended that your heart rate is raised about 65 to 75% of your maximum heart rate during exercise. You can figure out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your current age from 220. If you are 65, for example, your maximum heart rate is 155.

    Aerobic exercise is a great way to improve your heart and lung function, as well as burn fat. Some aerobic exercises you can try include:

    • Walking.
    • Dancing.
    • Hiking.

    Remember, there are many benefits to working more exercise into your weekly routine. Some benefits of aerobic exercise can include:

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    Breast Examination After Treatment For Breast Cancer

    After surgery

    The incision line may be thick, raised, red and possibly tender for several months after surgery. Remember to examine the entire incision line.

    If there is redness in areas away from the scar, contact your physician. It is not unusual to experience brief discomforts and sensations in the breast or nipple area .

    At first, you may not know how to interpret what you feel, but soon you will become familiar with what is now normal for you.

    After breast reconstruction

    Following breast reconstruction, breast examination for the reconstructed breast is done exactly the same way as for the natural breast. If an implant was used for the reconstruction, press firmly inward at the edges of the implant to feel the ribs beneath. If your own tissue was used for the reconstruction, understand that you may feel some numbness and tightness in your breast. In time, some feeling in your breasts may return.

    After radiation therapy

    After radiation therapy, you may notice some changes in the breast tissue. The breast may look red or sunburned and may become irritated or inflamed. Once therapy is stopped, the redness will disappear and the breast will become less inflamed or irritated. At times, the skin can become more inflamed for a few days after treatment and then gradually improve after a few weeks. The pores in the skin over the breast also may become larger than usual.

    What to do

    What Is The Treatment For Her2

    Pico question examples breast cancer

    Specialized breast cancer treatments, known as targeted therapies, have been developed to treat breast cancers that express the HER2 protein. Targeted therapies are newer forms of cancer treatment that specifically attack cancer cells and do less damage to normal cells than traditional chemotherapy. Targeted therapies for HER2-positive breast cancer include the following:

    • Trastuzumab is an antibody against the HER2 protein Adding treatment with trastuzumab to chemotherapy given after surgery has been shown to lower the recurrence rate and death rate in women with HER2-positive early breast cancers. Using trastuzumab along with chemotherapy has become a standard adjuvant treatment for these women.
    • Pertuzumab also works against HER2-positive breast cancers by blocking the cancer cell’s ability to receive growth signals from HER2.
    • Lapatinib is another drug that targets the HER2 protein and maybe given combined with chemotherapy. It is used in women with HER2-positive breast cancer that is no longer helped by chemotherapy and trastuzumab.
    • T-DM1 or ado-trastuzumab emtansine is a combination of Herceptin and the chemotherapy medication emtansine. Kadcyla was designed to deliver emtansine to cancer cells by attaching it to Herceptin.

    Read Also: What Chemo Drugs Are Used For Triple Negative Breast Cancer

    What Does A Breast Cancer Diagnosis Mean

    You may have received a diagnosis for breast cancer, or maybe you know someone who has received a diagnosis. What does that mean, exactly? Are there any similar threads that run through a breast cancer diagnosis? Some, but each breast cancer is unique to the person, as is each specific treatment protocol. Breast cancer is not a one-size-fits-all disease.

    Before diagnosis, I thought all breast cancers were the same. I have since learned otherwise.

    Breast cancer. When you hear those words, either by your own diagnosis or by the diagnosis of someone you know or love, its devastating. Thats it.

    Your initial reactions run through you, knocking over any amount of sense you thought you had, with no regard for your sanity. You tell yourself to calm down, to try and think, damnit! Yet, the moment swallows you and from that moment on, you know that youll never forget where you were or what you were doing.

    I. Have. Breast. Cancer.

    What the hell does that mean? Do I have early stage? Late stage? Has it spread? Is it encapsulated? Is it common? Is it aggressive? Do my breasts have to be cut off? Do I need chemotherapy? How about radiation? Do I get to keep most of my lymph nodes? Will I lose my hair? Will I be sick? Will I get to live after I endure the medical community and their science? What is my prognosis? Will it come back? If it does come back, does that effect my survival rate?

    What the hell does my particular diagnosis mean?!

    This much I know for sure.

    Introduction: Background And Conventional Treatment Options

    Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and the leading cause of cancer deaths in women worldwide. More than 1.15 million cases of breast cancer are diagnosed annually, and in 2002 there were over 410,000 deaths due to this disease.1,2 While breast cancer with limited spread is potentially curable, prognosis is heavily dependent on the degree of involvement of the axillary lymph nodes:3 nearly 100% of women without lymph node involvement are alive 10 years after diagnosis as compared to 4559% of those with 49 involved lymph nodes , and 6877% with 10 or more involved lymph nodes.4 Locally advanced and inflammatory breast cancers are a heterogeneous group of tumors as a consequence, prognosis is difficult to predict and is influenced largely by biologic characteristics of individual tumors.5 Inflammatory breast cancers are an uncommon subtype characterized by dermal lymphatic invasion, often extensive local involvement, and aggressive behavior. Even with combined modality therapy, the 5-year disease-free survival is approximately 30%.6

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    What Are The Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer

    • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle.
    • A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea.
    • A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast.
    • A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from the nipple.
    • A change in the look or feel of the skin on the breast or nipple .
    • Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple.
    • An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast.
    • A marble-like hardened area under the skin.

    These changes may be found when performing monthly breast self-exams. By performing breast self-exams, you can become familiar with the normal monthly changes in your breasts.

    Breast self-examination should be performed at the same time each month, three to five days after your menstrual period ends. If you have stopped menstruating, perform the exam on the same day of each month.


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