Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
There are several risk factors that increase your chances of getting breast cancer. However, having any of these doesnt mean you will definitely develop the disease.
Some risk factors cant be avoided, such as family history. You can change other risk factors, such as quitting smoking, if you smoke. Risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Age. Your risk for developing breast cancer increases as you age. Most invasive breast cancers are found in women over age 55 years.
- Drinking alcohol. Alcohol use disorder raises your risk.
- Having dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue makes mammograms hard to read. It also increases your risk for breast cancer.
- Gender. White women are
While there are risk factors you cant control, following a healthy lifestyle, getting regular screenings, and taking any preventive measures your doctor recommends can help reduce your risk for developing breast cancer.
What Is Stage 0 Breast Cancer
Also called carcinoma in situ, stage 0 is the earliest breast cancer stage. At stage 0, the breast mass is noninvasive, and there is no indication that the tumor cells have spread to other parts of the breast or other parts of the body. Often, stage 0 is considered a precancerous condition that typically requires close observation, but not treatment.
Stage 0 breast cancer is difficult to detect. There may not be a lump that can be felt during a self-examination, and there may be no other symptoms. However, breast self-exams and routine screening are always important and can often lead to early diagnosis of breast cancer, when the cancer is most treatable. Stage 0 disease is most often found by accident during a breast biopsy for another reason, such as to investigate an unrelated breast lump.
There are two types of stage 0 breast cancer:
Ductal carcinoma in situ occurs when breast cancer cells develop in the breast ducts. Today, stage 0 DCIS is being diagnosed more often because more women are having routine mammogram screenings. DCIS can become invasive, so early treatment can be important.
What Is Stage 0 Lcis
Lobular carcinoma in situ at Stage 0 generally is not considered cancer. Although it has carcinoma in the name, it really describes a growth of abnormal but non-invasive cells forming in the lobules. Some experts prefer the name lobular neoplasia for this reason because it accurately refers to the abnormal cells without naming them as cancer. LCIS, however, may indicate a woman has an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
If you have been diagnosed with LCIS, your doctor may recommend regular clinical breast exams and mammograms. He or she may also prescribe Tamoxifen, a hormone therapy medication that helps prevent cancer cells from growing.
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The 4 Stages Of Breast Cancer
The four stages of breast cancer include
- Stage I: It is divided into two groups.
- Stage IA: Cancer is 2 cm or smaller and has not spread outside the breast.
- Stage IB: Cancer has spread to the lymph node and is between 0.2 and 2 mm in size.
There is one more stage called stage 0 or carcinoma in situ. It means the initial stage where the cancerous cells are confined to their origin and have not acquired the invasive character yet.
The staging system most often used for breast cancer is the TNM system of the American Joint Committee on Cancer . In this, breast cancer staging may be of two types.
The Stages Of Breast Cancer
Stage 0: The disease is only in the ducts and lobules of the breast. It has not spread to the surrounding tissue. It is also called noninvasive cancer .
Stage I: The disease is invasive. Cancer cells are now in normal breast tissue. There are 2 types:
- Stage IA: The tumor is up to 2 centimeters . It has not spread to the lymph nodes .
- Stage IB: The tumor is in the breast and is less than 2 cm. Or the tumor is in the lymph nodes of the breast and there is no tumor in the breast tissue.
Stage II describes invasive breast cancer. There are 2 types:
- Stage IIA: A tumor may not be found in the breast, but cancer cells have spread to at least 1 to 3 lymph nodes. Or Stage IIA may show a 2 to 5 cm tumor in the breast with or without spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
- Stage IIB: The tumor is 2 to 5 cm and the disease has spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes. Or the tumor is larger than 5 cm but has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
Stage III describes invasive breast cancer. There are 3 types:
Stage IV : The tumor can be any size and the disease has spread to other organs and tissues, such as the bones, lungs, brain, liver, distant lymph nodes, or chest wall .
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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.
Treatment For Stage 3 Breast Cancer
for stage 3 breast cancer may include the following, depending on the type of cancer and other factors:
Stage 4 breast cancer is the most advanced stage. Stage 4 breast cancer also may be breast cancer that returned to affect other parts of the body. Cancer that has returned in other parts of the body is called recurrent metastatic breast cancer
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Remission And Risk Of Recurrence
Complete remission means all signs of cancer are gone.
Sometimes, cancer cells left behind after treatment eventually form new tumors. Cancer can recur locally, regionally, or in distant sites. While this can happen anytime, its most likely within the first five years.
After you finish treatment, regular monitoring should include doctor visits, imaging tests, and blood testing to look for signs of cancer.
Stages Of Breast Cancer
Staging describes or classifies a cancer based on how much cancer there is in the body and where it is when first diagnosed. This is often called the extent of cancer. Information from tests is used to find out the size of the tumour, what part of the breast has cancer, whether the cancer has spread from where it first started and where the cancer has spread. Your healthcare team uses the stage to plan treatment and estimate the outcome .
The most common staging system for breast cancer is the TNM system. For breast cancer there are 5 stages stage 0 followed by stages 1 to 4. Often the stages 1 to 4 are written as the Roman numerals I, II, III and IV. Generally, the higher the stage number, the more the cancer has spread. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about staging.
When describing the stage of breast cancer, sometimes doctors group them as follows:
In situ breast cancer The cancer cells are only in the duct or lobule where they started and have not grown into nearby breast tissue . It is stage 0.
Early stage breast cancer The tumour is smaller than 5 cm and the cancer has not spread to more than 3 lymph nodes. It includes stages 1A, 1B and 2A.
Locally advanced breast cancer The tumour is larger than 5 cm. The cancer may have spread to the skin, the muscles of the chest wall or more than 3 lymph nodes. It includes stages 2B, 3A, 3B and 3C. Inflammatory breast cancer is also considered locally advanced breast cancer.
Find out more about .
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How Is Breast Cancer Treated
If the tests find cancer, you and your doctor will develop a treatment plan to eradicate the breast cancer, to reduce the chance of cancer returning in the breast, as well as to reduce the chance of the cancer traveling to a location outside of the breast. Treatment generally follows within a few weeks after the diagnosis.
The type of treatment recommended will depend on the size and location of the tumor in the breast, the results of lab tests done on the cancer cells, and the stage, or extent, of the disease. Your doctor will usually consider your age and general health as well as your feelings about the treatment options.
Breast cancer treatments are local or systemic. Local treatments are used to remove, destroy, or control the cancer cells in a specific area, such as the breast. Surgery and radiation treatment are local treatments. Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy are systemic treatments. A patient may have just one form of treatment or a combination, depending on her individual diagnosis.
What Is Stage 2 Breast Cancer
Also known as invasive breast cancer, the tumor in this stage measures between 2 cm to 5 cm, or the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm on the same side as the breast cancer. Stage 2 breast cancer indicates a slightly more advanced form of the disease. At this stage, the cancer cells have spread beyond the original location and into the surrounding breast tissue, and the tumor is larger than in stage 1 disease. However, stage 2 means the cancer has not spread to a distant part of the body.
At stage 2, a tumor may be detected during a breast self-exam as a hard lump within the breast. Breast self-exams and routine screening are always important and can often lead to early diagnosis, when the cancer is most treatable.
Stage 2 breast cancer is divided into two categories:
Stage 2A: One of the following is true:
- There is no tumor within the breast, but cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes, or
- The tumor in the breast is 2 cm or smaller and cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes, or
- The tumor in the breast measures 2 cm to 5 cm but cancer has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
Stage 2B: One of the following is true:
- The tumor measures 2 cm to 5 cm and cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes, or
- The tumor is larger than 5 cm but cancer has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
At stage 2, TNM designations help describe the extent of the disease. Most commonly, stage 2 breast cancer is described as:
Stage 2 breast cancer survival rate
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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:
Remember, there are many benefits to working more exercise into your weekly routine. Some benefits of aerobic exercise can include:
Checking The Lymph Nodes
The usual treatment is surgery to remove the cancer. Before your surgery you have an ultrasound scan to check the lymph nodes in the armpit close to the breast. This is to see if they contain cancer cells. If breast cancer spreads, it usually first spreads to the lymph nodes close to the breast.
Depending on the results of your scan you might have:
- a sentinel lymph node biopsy during your breast cancer operation
- surgery to remove your lymph nodes
You may have other treatments after surgery.
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What Other Factors Go Into Staging Breast Tumors
Here are some other breast cancer characteristics that go into staging.
Tumor grade: Grade refers to how abnormal the cancer cells are. A pathologist looks at the cancer cells under a microscope. The more the cancer cells resemble healthy cells, the lower the grade. Very abnormal cancer cells may be faster growing or more likely to spread.
Hormone receptor status: Cancer cells can have hormone receptors that make them more likely to respond to hormone therapy.
Tran explains, Your pathology report will determine if your cancer is estrogen receptor positive or negative, or progesterone receptor positive or negative. Positive hormone receptive cancers are more likely to respond to anti-estrogen therapies, like tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor. Hormone negative cancers may respond to other types of treatments.
HER2 status: A breast cancer cells DNA can reveal more about how aggressively the cancer can grow or spread. HER2 is a cancer gene that creates extra HER2 protein receptors in some breast cancers, which are known as HER2+, or HER2 positive, disease.
While HER2+ cancer can be aggressive, biologic targeted therapies such as trastuzumab can treat it successfully, Tran says.
Studying the cells of a breast tumor can reveal how and how quickly they are growing and spreading. Certain genetic characteristics signal cancer cells that are more likely than others to come back, Tran says.
What You Need To Know
- There are several kinds of breast cancer staging:
- Clinical staging is based on preliminary information such as imaging findings, clinical exam and pathology information.
- Anatomical staging is based on tumor size and the location of lymph node involvement.
- Pathology staging is based on the tumors size, pathological characteristics and lymph node involvement after surgery.
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Breast Cancer Stage Groups
In breast cancer, stage is based on the size and location of the primary tumor, the spread of cancer to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body, tumor grade, and whether certain biomarkers are present. To plan the best treatment and understand your prognosis, it is important to know the breast cancer stage.
There are 3 types of breast cancer stage groups:
- Clinical Prognostic Stage is used first to assign a stage for all patients based on health history, physical exam, imaging tests , and biopsies. The Clinical Prognostic Stage is described by the TNM system, tumor grade, and biomarker status . In clinical staging, mammography or ultrasound is used to check the lymph nodes for signs of cancer.
- Pathological Prognostic Stage is then used for patients who have surgery as their first treatment. The Pathological Prognostic Stage is based on all clinical information, biomarker status, and laboratory test results from breast tissue and lymph nodes removed during surgery.
- Anatomic Stage is based on the size and the spread of cancer as described by the TNM system. The Anatomic Stage is used in parts of the world where biomarker testing is not available. It is not used in the United States.
Diagnosis Of Breast Cancer
To determine if your symptoms are caused by breast cancer or a benign breast condition, your doctor will do a thorough physical exam in addition to a breast exam. They may also request one or more diagnostic tests to help understand whats causing your symptoms.
Tests that can help diagnose breast cancer include:
- Mammogram. The most common way to see below the surface of your breast is with an imaging test called a mammogram. Many women ages 40 and older get annual mammograms to check for breast cancer. If your doctor suspects you may have a tumor or suspicious spot, they will also request a mammogram. If an abnormal area is seen on your mammogram, your doctor may request additional tests.
- Ultrasound. A breast ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of the tissues deep in your breast. An ultrasound can help your doctor distinguish between a solid mass, such as a tumor, and a benign cyst.
Your doctor may also suggest tests such as an MRI or a breast biopsy.
If you dont already have a primary care doctor, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
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