Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
First, cancer stage must be diagnosed, because therapy is defined mostly by severity of malaise, size of tumors, their structure and other characteristics.
How is it diagnosed? There are several basic procedures:
- biopsy (a tiny fragment of tumor or other tissue is cut out and researched in laboratory);
- screening tests;
- sonography (breast ultrasound);
- magnetic resonance imaging
- galactogram (helps to find out what causes nipple secretion).
Breast Cancer Treatment Options
As it was mentioned, cure depends on disease peculiarities (stage, tumor size, etc.).
Triple Negative Breast Cancer Treatment
It is the most aggressive kind of disease. It is logical to assume that it requires aggressive procedures, though it is not always so. Typically, women need a combination of chemo, radiation, and surgery. Sometimes additional hormonal therapy and intake of Herceptin are required. Doctors found out that such cancers respond better to chemotherapy.
Of course, a woman undergoing procedures should stick to healthy lifestyle, which means normal foods rich in nutritive elements, no alcohol consumption or smoking, and optimal physical exercise.
Radiation Treatment For Breast Cancer
The main aim of this technology is to kill malignant cells left in body after surgery. Besides, it slows down growing and multiplying of cells. Most part of normal cells survive and repair after radiation. This is one of the most effective methods. Despite common belief that it causes drastic side effects, this is a relatively simply tolerable treatment, and consequences are limited to the affected area only.
Hyperthermia can be added to this therapy, because it is believed to make cells more susceptible to radiation (they are heated up to 113 Fahrenheit). Radiotherapy and thermotherapy are performed within an hour of each other.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment
Stage 4 breast cancer treatment is quite difficult, because in this case tumor spreads on bones and other organs. HER2-positive cancer is treated with Herceptin. Chemo plus radiation decrease the symptoms or disease itself. Prognosis for advanced cancer is usually not positive, and doctors can only ease the pain and negative symptoms.
Tumor markers tests and imaging tests are often organized to control the development of tumor.
Natural Treatment For Breast Cancer
Alternative methods prove to be useful for some patients. To reduce symptoms and promote better healing, you can try:
- Green tea (has microelements helping to fight cancer tissue).
- Vitamin D boosts immune system
- Broccoli has a gene that kills tumor cells.
- Garlic fight bacteria and contains alkyl sulphur that leads to death of malignant cells. Should be consumed raw.
- Grapes reduce production of estrogen, which brings positive outcomes in case of treating a hormone sensitive cancer.
- Wheatgrass enhances immunity, decreases level of toxins in body.
Breast Cancer Treatment Algorithm
The algorithm of cure is based on the stage mostly. First, diagnosis and analysis is required. If tissue damage is huge and serious, surgery is made. Radiotherapy is made after that to kill cancer cells that might stay after the procedure. Chemotherapy can be undergone during all this time (before and after operation). Blood tests are made often to track the progression of disease.
The Main Reasons to Choose a German Clinic
Entrust breast cancer treatment to real professionals! German Medical Groups offers many German clinics providing fast and effective treatment methods for cancer of any stage. Why going there?
- Cost of treatment is much cheaper than, for instance, in USA. The prices for surgery and therapies are usually 20-30% less.
- You may save on tickets, because flying from any European city to Berlin is 5 times cheaper than to New York.
- German doctors speak English, so you can save on an interpreter.
- German medicine uses advanced methods of treatment which ensures effective and safe treatment.
No matter how severe disease is, a German clinic is the place where you will get qualified and operative help! German Medical Group is your guide to the best European clinics. Be sure: treatment of cancer in such a place is totally safe and reliable. Most of our clients claim they have made the right decision, and if you hesitate where to be treated, we are here to help you out!
Breast Cancer Early Symptoms
It is not a secret that the sooner cancer is revealed, the easier it is to treat and deal with. Luckily, death rate of people diagnosed with breast tumors has decreased considerably due to modern methods of diagnosis and general awareness. What are the early signs of breast cancer, and what can be done to reveal them? This article describes recommendations of best German doctors.
The golden rule of every woman is to organize self-examination from time to time. It’s you who knows better how your breast looks and what it feels like. So the easiest and most reliable way of cancer detection is to check boobs for alterations. Always be on the lookout, and make sure that breasts preserve their shape, size and color. And remember that what is normal for your friends may be a telltale sign of early breast cancer for you.
Besides, you should tracks family history of cancer: if females from your lineage suffered from this disease, you are also at risk, and should double up your awareness. Of course, lifestyle decisions take their toll on your health: refuse of cigarettes and alcohol and get rid of some other bad habits. Regular physical activity and normal diet also boost cancer resistance.
Here are basic symptoms of initial cancer stages:
- Lump is the basic breast cancer early symptom. Palpate breast and tissues around them properly, reaching ribs. If you feel small solid masses of pea size or bigger, keep an eye out – check them regularly. If they do not dissolve on their own during 21 days, this is a reason to visit a doctor. Sometimes breast hardening is triggered by menstrual cycle. Even if you find a lump, do not panic: 80% of them are not cancerous.
- Redness, itching and skin warmth are also telltale signs of cancer. If you experience discomfort, and skin looks deformed, it should not be ignored. It can signal the presence of "advanced" cancer, which is aggressive and very dangerous. Skin becomes puckering or dimpling, just as orange peel. In rare cases, cancer causes formation of open wounds, but this is observed at last stages.
- Permanent fatigue is one of most unexpected early signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Modern woman's life is full of difficulties, problems, things to do, and, consequently, stress. It is normal to be tired as the end of day, but if weakness persists throughout a day, and this state lasts for several weeks, it is a signal that something is wrong with your body.
- Pain is another warning sign. If you experience it several weeks in row, tumor might have formed, and is continuing to develop. What kind of pain is it? Stinging, pulling, stabbing - women describe it in different ways.
- If a nipple becomes flat, or drawn inside, it is a clear sign of breast cancer. Body alterations like that do not appear without reasons, and tumor can affect the centre of boobs in this case.
- Paget's disease, a sub-type of cancer, is characterized by rash around nipples and on them. It often looks like eczema, and can be mistaken for it during examination. Skin covered with small red bumps may itch and cause burning sensation, which is quite unpleasant, especially when wearing bra.
- Swelling of armpit is often caused by tumor spreading to lymph nodes. That can manifest into uneasiness and discomfort experienced when trying to move an arm.
- Any discharge from nipples, be that transparent fluid, blood or something else are probably caused by disease benign, result of cancer.
- Flattening of boobs and sudden change of form is usually triggered by tumors. If you detect an area that is somewhat different from the rest of breast, it is probably affected. Marble-like formations under skin can also appear to be tumors.
These symptoms can appear together, or just one of them reveals – everything depends on a person. If at least one of the things described above tortures you for a long time, visit a doctor. If may save your health and even life.
If you notice any of these symptoms, and they last for half a month, or more, it is a reason to visit a doctor. He will assign tests and different diagnosis techniques to detect what exactly caused breast alterations. Early stage breast cancer treatment is proved to be quite effective, and you are more likely to recover and go through operations successfully. As soon as treatment is started, a person gets better and symptoms gradually relieve. If you experience some discomfort or pains during procedures, consult a doctor, and he may prescribe something to ease your state.
If you are aware of the symptoms, it will be easier for you to determine them and reveal in time. Be aware, and don't forget to perform self-check at least once in six months. If something makes you suspect the disease, don’t hesitate to visit oncologist.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Women
When the symptoms of breast cancer are not noticed in time, or are just being ignored, the chances to be cured totally decreases dramatically. Indeed, advanced stages can be avoided in many cases, if treatment is rendered early. What are the basic signs and symptoms of breast cancer and relieve them?
Woman’s body is always altering, and what seems to be normal, may turn out to be a telltale sign of malaise. Here is what primary attention should be paid for:
- Change of breasts, for instance, skin dimpling, inward turning of nipples, discharge of fluid from nipples, scaling or redness. In this case, a doctor may perform examination, ask about history of cancer in family and assign biopsy or mammography.
- Thickening and swelling of underarm that persists during menstrual cycle.
- If bloating persists a week or two and is accompanied with bleeding or weight alteration, it may be one of the most evident female breast cancer symptoms.
- Extreme permanent tiredness is not normal. If fatigue never gets better and is accompanied by other unpleasant symptoms, for instance, blood in stool, you should consult a doctor.
- Although most aches have other causes, they can also signal the presence of some disease. If an unexplained ache in breast lasts for a month or longer, this is a reason to consult a doctor.
- Lumps are also among evident symptoms. Breast palpation allows identifying them: if there are some solid inclusions, it is not normal and can appear to be a tumor.
These changes can be observed even during self-exam, so don’t forget checking your breasts from time to time. German doctors recommend visiting an oncologist in case at least one of the described symptoms is present. It can save your health and life.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms
This is a type of quickly developing disease that usually does not cause formation of distinct lumps. Instead of it, breast skin thickens and starts reminding orange peel. The affected area also becomes warmer and can be covered with tiny bumps looking like a rash. Sometimes breast becomes red and sores, and feels hard. In fact, the disease starts like small seed-like tumors that develop, grow through breast tissue.
Paget’s disease, another variation is characterized by rash surrounding nipple. The red rash may be itching and mistaken for eczema.
Stage 1 Breast Cancer Symptoms
Although some women do not notice the symptoms of cancer on initial stages, they still can be distinguished. These can be:
- Presence of tumors 2 centimeters wide or even smaller (size of a peanut);
- Lymph nodes can have small clusters of cells 0,2 – 2,0 mm wide.
As a rule, these stages do not require treatment with chemotherapy: other methods can be enough to eliminate cancer cells totally. Additionally, hormone therapy can be rendered to ensure total recovery.
What Else Can Trigger The Disease And Be a Telltale Sign Of Cancer?
Lack of nutrition is an early symptom. If you experience deficiency of Vitamin D and don’t consume foods rich in Iodine, the risk of cancer development is elevated. About 75% of adult population suffer from vitamin deficiency. It is good if you get food supplements on daily basis, or consume foods rich in iodine, zinc and selenium. Don’t know whether your body lacks them? Consult naturopath or integrative doctor, and you will get recommendations about diet corrections.
How to Reveal Symptoms?
The best way to diagnose breast cancer in time is to perform self-checking. Try to palpate breasts and define whether there are any hard inclusions. Look on the skin: if there are some changes, and it itches or inflames, it can also be the sign of disease. If there is something bothering you, doctor’s examination is necessary. Do not hesitate to make screening or X-ray – it is always better to know beforehand.
Is It Possible To Reduce Breast Cancer Symptoms?
As soon as treatment is started, symptoms will gradually fade away. After surgery, lumps and solid formations will be gone, and radiation will eliminate what is left. Pains may be reduced with the help of chemotherapy. To promote curing and relieve symptoms, you can do the following:
Eat sufficient amount of foods rich in vitamins and microelement. You need to get all essential components to make sure that your body has enough powers to fight the disease.
Walk and be active. Of course, you don’t have to go to gym and spend hours on exercising. But even half an hour of fitness, jogging or yoga will already make you feel better. Besides, walking is necessary to get enough fresh air and have better mood.
Do not allow yourself stressing out! Of course, treatment is a long and hard period, but you should not lose courage. Spend your time with family and close friends, do what you like and enjoy simple things. You will be surprised to learn how many things around us can make us happy!
Breast Cancer Surgery
Why is it needed?
Surgery for breast cancer is usually inevitable at any stage of the disease. This is the most important step of treatment, because it is aimed at tumor elimination. What are its peculiarities, and where you can get a highly professional treatment?
A surgery can be done for different purposes, including:
- To remove tumor and malignant cells.
- To examine spread of cancer in underarm and lymph nodes (biopsy or dissection are performed).
- Breast reconstruction (restoration of boob shape after cancer removal).
- To relieve complications of advanced stages.
Breast Cancer Surgery Options
There are two basic ways of cancer removal from breast.
- Lumpectomy– this operation allows saving some part of boob tissue, because only one part of breast is cut out. Surgeons remove malignant cells and some normal tissues around. The amount of removed tissues is defined by various factors, including its size, location, etc.
- Mastectomy is cutting out of entire breast tissue, including some tissues around. In case of double mastectomy both breasts are cut out. Breast restoration is required after such operation.
What to choose? At early stages, both types of treatment can be useful, but in case of mastectomy, radiation treatment is less likely to be required. If tumor has a large size, or cancer repeats, or cancer type is aggressive, mastectomy is the only way out.
Surgery For Advanced Breast Cancer
Despite the fact that an operation at the last stages of cancer is not likely to cure the disease entirely, it may still relieve symptoms or decelerate the spread of tumor. For example, it may be helpful if:
- A tumor causes open wound in the chest.
- Small metastases should be treated in different body parts, for instance, brain.
- Cancer tumor presses on spinal cord.
- Blockage of liver should be relieved.
- Symptoms and pain can be reduced only this way.
Peculiarities of chemotherapy
Traditionally, chemotherapy after breast cancer surgery is done – no preliminary treatment is provided. However, for some patients, reverse order of actions should be performed, as it appears more effective. Why so? In this case, chemotherapy shrinks the tumor, and it becomes easier to cut out. That helps to preserve breast tissue. This is done only for tumors bigger than 2 cm, in other cases – there is no point of going through chemo before surgery for breast cancer. Sometimes neoadjuvant therapy can even provide treatment without operation on initial stages (to prevent operation), or for advanced cancer (inoperable).
Chemothreapy after operation is needed to exterminate cancer cells that might have left and prevent their growth. That ensures total recovery and reduces the chances of recrudescence.
Breast Cancer Surgery Side Effects
Of course, surgery may cause some outcomes, and the chances for it depend on age, health state, and further treatment of disease. A person may face pain or discomfort because of trauma of tissues during surgery. It can be treated with pain-relieving medications, and will disappear as far as recovery comes.
Wound infection is rare, but there are some occasions it happens after surgery. Antibiotics are used to treat this side effect. Signs of infection include fever, bad-smelling drainage from wound, redness, etc. Hematoma and bleeding within or outside blood vessels. It causes swelling, redness and skin inflammation. Surgery may also cause:
- seroma (collection of lymph node fluid);
- fatigue that lasts about eight weeks after surgery;
- changes in arm and shoulder movements;
- lymphedema (swelling of or around lymph);
- damage of nerves;
- changes in sense of balance;
- psychological and self-esteem changes.
These outcomes can and should be treated. And, of course, to avoid them, you should choose a good clinic and a professional doctor who will do his best to avoid complications.
How to Choose a Clinic?
Since breast surgery is the most important part of treatment, it should be entrusted to real professionals. Where to get top-notch treatment? German Medical Group provides an extensive choice of German clinic with the best conditions and most experienced doctors. Why treatment in Germany is the best solution for all Europeans?
- Prices for cancer surgery and many other therapies are 30-50% less than in American clinics.
- Plane tickets to the USA are five times more expensive than flying from any European town to Berlin. Just compare: a Paris-Berlin ticket costs $90, while a trip to New York is worth about $500.
- You speak simple English? Then you don’t have to hire an entrepreneur, because German doctors know this language, and you will definitely find it easy to talk to each other.
- Post-operational treatment is mild, and doctors will do their best to ensure that you feel okay after surgery, and recovering goes well.
Breast cancer surgery is not a threat anymore, if you know where to get treatment, A German clinic is always a sensible choice!
Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer
The indications for hormone therapy for breast cancer are, first of all, recurrences or distant metastases that have been detected after previous treatment, as well as advanced forms of breast cancer with or without distant metastases.
To obtain a therapeutic effect, it is necessary to reduce or completely switch off the production of hormones that stimulate the proliferative processes in the mammary glands. Such hormones include folliculin and progesterone produced by the ovaries, estrogens produced by the adrenal cortex, and follicle-stimulating hormone of the anterior pituitary gland.
The function of these hormones can be suppressed by removing the ovaries, adrenal glands and pituitary. But the results of this kind of therapy remain controversial.
In addition to these methods, in case of recurrences and metastases of breast cancer, bilateral adrenalectomy is recommended in combination with oophorectomy.
It has been ascertained that premenopausal women with temporary improvement due to oophorectomy are the most suitable candidates for adrenalectomy.
In addition to the surgical method, which, when performed on the adrenal glands and especially on the pituitary, should be rated as severe and often dangerous, disabling ovarian function can be achieved (though less radically) by local irradiation of the ovaries, or by total body irradiation ‒ X-ray therapy.
Suppression of follicle-stimulating hormone of the anterior pituitary gland can also be achieved by radiation or by long-term use of androgens or estrogens.
Suppression of the estrogenic function of the adrenal glands occurs with prolonged and continuous introduction of corticosteroids ‒ prednisone, cortisone, or their analogues. This therapy leads to inhibition of adrenocorticotropic function of the pituitary gland and for the second time causes atrophy of the adrenal cortex.
When prescribing an endocrine drug, one should take into account the hormonal status of the patient, which is associated with the state of ovarian function at this stage.
At the same time, it is necessary to distinguish patients with preserved ovarian function and patients with physiological menopause, as well as patients with menopause after suppression of ovarian function by radiation methods or appropriate hormones and patients who, for one reason or another, have had their ovaries removed.
A considerable number of observations have already been accumulated, indicating that hormone therapy, in appropriate cases, can lead to regression of recurrent foci and metastatic nodules, often a primary tumour in untreated patients, and also slow down the further development of the process. Hormone therapy in half of the cases results in a subjective improvement, and objective improvement is observed in about 1/5 of the cases. Hormonal treatment can lengthen the life for about 1/3 of patients for 1-2 years or more from the start of the treatment. True, until now, with the help of hormonal preparations, it was not possible to obtain a complete cure.
In recent years androgens have become quite widely used in the treatment of recurrences and metastases of breast cancer after previous treatment, as well as in advanced, untreated forms.
Currently, in addition to the previously known, there are many androgenic drugs produced under various names: methylandrostendiolum, neodrol, methylhydrotestosterone, testoviron, homosteron, etc. When used, their dosage should be calculated on the basis of testosterone propionate dosage.
With advanced, untreated forms of breast cancer or with recurrences and metastases after previous treatment, it is most advisable to prescribe androgens.
Estrogens can be used in the same cases as androgens, but in patients who got menopause at least 10 years ago. Otherwise, this type of therapy can only be carried out after oophorectomy.
Of the group of corticosteroids, cortisone is the most common drug. You can also use prednisone or prednisolone.
In order to switch off ovarian function in menstruating women and those who have been in menopause for less than 10 years, bilateral oophorectomy is performed. Suppression of the adrenal cortex is achieved by the prescription of cortisone or its analogues. Adrenal follicle-stimulating function is suppressed by the use of androgens or estrogens.
Depending on the menstrual function, various hormone therapy regimens are used.
- In menstruating patients after oophorectomy, androgens or corticosteroids are used.
- With menopause of less than 10 years after oophorectomy, androgens, corticosteroids or estrogens are prescribed.
- With menopause of more than 10 years, estrogens are used in combination with corticosteroids.
The continuity of the action of hormonal drugs is best ensured by the introduction of hormonal pills in the subcutaneous tissue of the anterior abdominal wall every 4 months. Hormonal drugs to treat patients with advanced stages of breast cancer should be used for a long time and continuously, practically throughout life.
In the presence of solitary skin, lymph node or bone metastases, the effectiveness of hormone therapy can be increased by irradiating the lesion.
Currently, there are considerable treatment options for breast cancer. But now, in case of inoperable forms of cancer or the return of the disease after previous treatment, only temporary success can be achieved.
The very important proposition in oncology that follows from this is: efficient treatment of cancer of any localization is beneficial only when it begins in proper time. Early diagnosis is the key to successful cancer treatment.
Treatment of recurrences, metastases and inoperable forms of breast cancer with anticancer drugs in connection with the progress of chemotherapy is gaining more and more supporters.
Chemotherapy as the only treatment for recurrences or metastases of breast cancer gets the disease into short remissions. Best results can be obtained by using chemotherapy during hormone therapy.
HER2 sensitive cells have certain receptors attracting and keeping estrogen. It promotes faster and more productive development and multiplying. 2/3 of all cancers are hormone-sensitive, which means that high level of estrogen triggers tumor development.
What therapy is needed for?
Breast cancer hormone therapy is aimed at blocking the ability of tumors to attract hormones and produce it. In most cases, this therapy helps to overcome tumor, or at least decrease its symptoms. This type of therapy is mostly assigned at advanced stages, e.g. in instances when disease affects not breast only, but some other organs, too.
This is a systematic therapy that allows reaching cancer cells in entire body. Only hormone sensitive cells can be treated this way. Otherwise, treatment will be useless.
When is it required?
Being a part of adjuvant therapy, it minimizes the chances of recurrence. In rarer cases, hormones are given before surgery. As a rule, this therapy lasts minimum five years. In cases of recurrence or cancer development, this therapy also proves to be useful.
Breast cancer prevention: do hormones help?
Yes, hormonal drugs aid to prevent cancer development, if a woman is at risk. Studies have shown that postmenopausal women taking hormonal drugs for cancer prevention decreased the risk of disease development at 50%. 5-year intake of Tamoxifen and Raloxifen reduced the danger of cancer occurrence on 38%. Tamoxifen can be used regardless of fact if a woman has reached menopause or not.
Drugs for therapy
All cancer drugs are created to stop estrogen influence on malignant cells. These can be pills or injections.
It causes receptor blocking so that cell growth and division was no longer boosted by estrogen. While having anti-estrogen properties in breast, it supplies the hormone to all organs. It is applicable in several cases:
- If a woman needs a surgery, the drug can minimize chance of disease recurrence and increase lifespan. Besides, it lowers the possibility of tumor formation in another breast. Course may be started regardless of surgery date, and is typically taken during five-ten years. Usually assigned for fertile women. Otherwise, aromatase inhibitors comprise the treatment.
- When ductal carcinoma is diagnosed, this drug prevents its recurrence. Besides, it prevents invasive cancer.
- When tumor affects other organs, tamoxifen decelerates their growth and can even shrink them. As prevention measure for healthy women.
Toremifene (Fareston) works the same way, but is appropriate for advanced stages only. Both medications can condition the following side effects:
- Swings of mood.
- Dryness of vagina or discharges.
- Hot flash.
It provides almost the same hormone treatment for breast cancer, blocking and eliminating hormone receptors in malignant cells. Unlike Tamoxifen, it has anti-estrogen properties in entire body. If other drugs cannot help, doctors resolve to Fulvestrant to stop metastases. This medication is given in form of injections in butt. First two are made twice a month, the next ones – once a month. Possible complications are intake include:
- Hot flashes.
- Sweating during night.
Aromatase inhibitors (AIs)
These cease or decrease female hormone production. They are usually prescribed for ladies after menopause, and block aromatase enzyme contained in adipose tissues from producing estrogen. The pills should be taken every day during 5 years and are recommended to decrease chances of recurrence. For cases when cancer gets back, they are also helpful and are taken while they bring relief. Some outcomes are:
- Pain in muscles and joints.
- Bone thinning, which may lead to fractures.
Ovarian ablation as an adjuvant measure
Since ovaries produce most part of estrogen in body, its cutting or cease of its work may help to make other therapies more effective. This measure is done by three different ways. Oophorectomy is removal of ovaries. Luteinizing hormone analogs block signals to ovaries to produce the hormone, which conditions short-term menopause. Chemotherapy drugs may damage the organ permanently, ceasing hormone production.
Hormonal drugs are essential for successful treatment. A properly figured out medication course does wonders: improves well-being, decreases symptoms and decelerates growth of malignant cells. Most often, they cause unpleasant side effects, but they disappear as soon as the course is over.
Breast Cancer Recurrence
When Does Recurrence Occur?
As soon as a woman manages to recover from breast cancer, a simple question arises: will there be any recurrence? Will the disease get back? This is a question number one among people going through post-treatment period. Let's find out what German doctors and other specialists think about it.
In fact, cancer may get back anytime in woman’s life. But most cases take place five years after the end of all therapies. No matter how much time passed since the first cancer – a patient should regularly check her health.
What Causes It?
If cancer affected you once, it means that you will always be prone to this disease: your cells may be affected again. But there are many other reasons for recurrence:
- heredity, e.g. family history of cancer (if your relatives were diagnosed with cancer, it means you are genetically presupposed to it);
- unhealthy habits and lifestyle (smoking, drugs, alcohol), lack of physical activity and sleep, permanent stress. Why does it matter? Everything mentioned abode decreases organism's resistance to toxins and makes immune system weaker;
- hormonal changes (excessive amount of estrogen triggers development of malignant cells in breasts);
- cancer cells that survived after therapies (they recover and start growing and multiplying again).
Sometimes cancer may occur again, but in another breast. It may be not connected with above-mentioned reasons at all.
How to Differentiate It?
Recurrence manifests into tumors that form at the place of mastectomy scar, or in any other body part. Usually, lungs, liver, brain, lymph nodes and bones are affected.
To detect it, you should keep an eye out on changes happening with your body. Check the place that was treated and other parts of body every month. If something has altered, talk to your oncologist. Besides, don't forget to make mammograms regularly. Modern specialists advise to make 3D mammograms that allow checking breast area properly. Presence of BRCA mutations means you need to make MRI of breast. Consult with your doctor to define the best screening methods.
Together with self-examination you should make visits to your doctor. He will check the breasts and consult you about symptoms. Tell him, if you experience pains, fatigue, nausea, headache, and loss of appetite, weight fluctuations or anything else. Initially, appointments are made once in 3-4 months, the more you stay healthy, the less often visits are.
What Are Symptoms Of Recurrence?
If you notice one of the following things, it may be a symptom of recurrence:
- Lump in breast, armpit or under arm that does not disappear by itself.
- Alterations of size, shape or contour of boobs.
- Visible marble-like area under breast.
- Change of skin appearance, including redness, puckering, dimpling, formation of orange-like areas, warmth.
- Bloody or transparent fluid coming out of nipples.
- Nipple flattening or deformation.
Proper treatment tactic depends on the treatment you had initially. Women who went through lumpectomy usually have to go through mastectomy. If mastectomy had already been done, tumor can be cut out again, and treated with radiation. A doctor decides what is best for you after surgery. If a tumor appears in another breast, this case may be unrelated to the first one, and a new type of treatment is arranged. The same can be told about cancer taking place in lungs, bones and liver: preferable kind of treatment is defined by a doctor. When malignant cells have high level of HER2 protein, immunotherapy with Herceptin is prescribed.
How to Avoid Breast Cancer Recurrence?
There is not much you can do before cancer is revealed. However, there are some factors defining its behavior.
- First, make sure that previous treatment was effective and fully accomplished. Even one malignant cell that was not killed may start up the new outbreak of disease.
- Try to stick to healthy lifestyle. It matters a lot. Do physical exercises, eat foods full of antioxidants, and avoid experiencing stress and lack of sleep. If you have bad habits (for instance, smoking), it is high time to forget about them forever.
- Visit a doctor and perform self-examination regularly. Be on the lookout of what is happening with your body, and keep the track of changes taking place – if any alteration takes place, visit an oncologist.
Note that most often, breast cancer recurrence does not require more complicated treatment than the previous disease outbreak. If you have been diagnosed with it one more time, you already know what to go through, and what treatment is. Do your best to prevent cancer recurrence down the road, and it may disappear forever. Also remember that women with secondary cancer cases manage to live productive lives for many years.
Breast Cancer Prognosis
What the Prognosis is Based On?
Thanks to recent advances in medicine, survival rates of people affected by cancer have grown up dramatically. Today, most women who diagnosed the disease on the first or second stages manage to outreach predicted lifespan of five or even ten years. What are your chances, if you have such a diagnosis? Here is what German doctors think and recommend.
A number of years left depends on a person: stage of disease he or she has, lifestyle and habits, family history of cancer, peculiarities of tumor and malignant cells. Generally, doctors take a 5-year lifespan into account, and calculate how many people out of 100 manage to live up to five years - a certain percent is given. Besides, there is also a decade survival rate.
Breast cancer prognosis for Stage 1
In fact, almost 100% of patients at the first stage of disease manage to outlive 5 years. This time is enough to diagnose a disease properly and start treatment, correcting it eventually. If the tumor is not very aggressive, people manage to overcome cancer forever.
General prognosis for all patients is positive: vast majority manage to overcome the malaise and never experience its recurrence. But treatment should be rendered without delay to ensure its effectiveness and decrease side effects.
Prognosis of breast cancer Stage 2
Stage 2 is also called early, because patients manage to overcome disease in most cases. Survival rate is usually 86-96%, and about 60-80% people manage to live even more than 10 years. In this case, combination of treatment methods (chemo, radiation and operation) is required.
Hormone sensitive cancer requires hormonal therapy (Herpecin intake). Chemotherapy is recommended to be performed prior to surgery, not after as it is usually performed - this is a new approach that allows shrinking a tumor, making operation safer and saving more breast tissue.
Stage 3 Breast Cancer Prognosis
At this stage, tumor develops outside breasts, affecting lymph nodes and muscles. This kind of cancer is far more difficult to recover from, and survival rate decreases to 50-60%. This kind of breast cancer is usually treated intensively, and serious operations are required. Most likely, a patient has to be treated with:
- operation (mastectomy, or partial removal of breast tissue);
- radiation therapy;
- intake of hormones;
- series of additional procedures.
Although this is a progressive type of cancer, it can be cured in some cases. Do not give up, if you face it – proper treatment and positive approach will take their toll.
Stage 4 Breast Cancer Prognosis
This is the last stage of disease. Tumor grows into other organs, for instance, lungs, brain, muscles or bones. Today, prognosis for advanced cancer cannot be called very positive, but there is a lot to be done about symptoms (pain, discomfort, fatigue). Survival rate in this case ranges from 15% to 22%.
Triple Negative Breast Cancer Prognosis
This is a cancer type characterized by too many receptors of cancer cells. Due to that, they divide and grow too quickly, which makes triple negative cancer a very aggressive disease. It spreads outside breast and is quite likely to reoccur within 3 years after treatment. Survival rates in this case are lower than usually: a study organized in 2007 shown that 77% of patients having triple negative cancer survived within five years, while in other cancer cases more than 90% of patients survived. Grade of cells and stage of disease define woman’s personal prognosis.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer Prognosis
The prognosis and possible outcomes may be different. Although this is one of the most dangerous cancer types, there is a chance to be treated normally and recover fully. Many aspects can affect prognosis of a patient, and these include:
- stage of disease;
- type and location of tumors;
- patient’s overall health;
- how disease responds to treatment.
As far as inflammatory breast cancer spreads and develops very quickly in different body parts, women with it have shorter lives. However, everything depends on personal situation (peculiarities of tumor and medical history).
Today, doctors still try to understand the nature of this cancer type, and studies are being performed to work out more effective treatment methods. A woman diagnosed with the disease can discuss with a doctor participation in clinical trials, if she wants to – this is a real chance to cure the disease with alternative methods.
Breast cancer is a serious disease, but you should not regard it as a death sentence. In some cases, well-timed diagnosis and proper treatment allow recovering fully and avoiding recurrence during the next years. It is highly important to hope and do your best to get rid of the malaise. Don’t be afraid of the future, and let your friends and family support you while going through therapies.
Breast Cancer Survival Rate
Stage 1 Breast Cancer Survival Rate
The main problem of cancer is that this is a disease with high mortality rate. Depending on the stage, ill people have different chances for survival. How to define the number of years left, and can lethal cases be avoided? Read what German doctors and professionals from all over the world think about breast cancer rates.
In essence, survival rate is an average number of people that survive with the same diagnosis and the same stage during a certain amount of time. These numbers are used to make prognosis for patients and define within which time treatment would be of any use. Some patients would like to know them, while the other would like to ignore number.
Since this stage is not difficult to treat, five-year survival rate is averagely 96-100%. During this time, operation and radiation therapy can take its toll, and a person is likely to recover. Ten-year survival is about 86%. A decade is enough to do everything possible to win over the malaise.
Some studies show that 80% of people with cancer of 1st stage live up to 8 years. Everything depends on the treatment. If it is not performed at all, rates can be lower, though, most women manage to live for 5 years.
Stage 2 Breast Cancer Survival Rate
In this instance, about 90% of women live 5 years, and sometimes even more. Treatment requires operations, radiation and sometimes chemotherapy, and if those are combines effectively, a person may live far longer. However the chances of 10-year survival rate are already less than 50%. Properly chosen treatment is what mostly influences the duration of a person’s life. Early diagnosed stage 2 responds well to radiation - it improves survival rate considerably.
Most patients with cancer of stage 2 manage to recover and live out predicted lifespan. Tumors inside boobs and lymph nodes are operable, and the rest of malignant cells will be exterminated with radiation. If you care about yourself, even minor problems with health will not decrease the chances to live 5 and more years. So complete post-treatment visits, follow doctor’s recommendations, and you will get high survival rate of breast cancer.
Stage 3 Breast Cancer Survival Rate
In this case, about 60 women out of 100 manage to survive. At this stage, tumor is larger than 2 inches and often affects chest wall muscles and breast skin. Tumor may be located not within breast, but affect lymph nodes. Intensive therapy is required to get rid of it. Combination of various methods (operation, chemo, radiation) is often applied. Hormone status also means a lot – hormonal therapy will be required to keep the growth of malignant cells under control.
HER2-positive cancer is also treated with Herceptin, and endocrinal therapy may be required. People undergo it for at least five years after basic treatment completion. If a tumor affected chest wall muscles, mastectomy will be required, and some women would like to reconstruct boobs after it. Generally, it is possible to live 5 years and more, if treatment is successful – every case is possible. Also note that sometimes women succumb not to cancer – fatal cases can be conditioned by other issues.
Women with the last stage manage to survive 5 years only in 15-22% of cases. This type of disease is also called metastatic, and is characterized by tumor diffusion into other organs: lungs, bran, and even bones. Only 2% of women manage to survive a decade and more.
Everything depends on how treatable and operable tumors are. Sometimes there is nothing to be done, and doctors are only capable of relieving symptoms and pain for patients.
What does survival depend on?
Note: survival rates for breast cancer are defined by numerous aspects. These include:
- Type of cancer means a lot, because it defines how quickly tumor spreads and whether cancer cells are susceptible for certain cancer drugs.
- Grade of cells, e.g. how abnormal they look under microscope.
- Cancer may get back during two-five years. Sometimes recurrent tumor appears a decade or two later, but it is rare. The more time has passed, the less likely it is for cancer to get back.
- Hormone sensitiveness is one of things defining the type of cancer.
Mind that statistics give relative numbers: many things depend on a person. Modern medicine uses advanced methods of cancer treatment and diagnosis, so survival rates have become far higher during recent years. Many women manage to outlive predicted lifespan due to intense therapy, lifestyle improvement and just power of will. A doctor will give a detailed prognosis after analyzing such things as family history of diseases, health state, your lifestyle and hormones.
Survival rate is just a number that can be corrected, if you and doctors try to do your best. Remember that if you don’t want to know the prognosis, a doctor will keep this secret.