Breast Cancer in 5 Stages and How It Is Treated

Breast cancer is a significant health concern worldwide, affecting millions of women each year. In India, it is the most common cancer among women, with an increasing incidence rate. Understanding breast cancer, the breast cancer types and treatment options is crucial for early detection and successful management. In this blog post, we will explore breast cancer in five stages and delve into how it is treated.

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Stage 0: Understanding Precancerous Changes

Breast cancer symptoms don’t typically develop overnight; they often begin with precancerous changes in breast tissue. In stage 0, also known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct but have not invaded nearby tissues. While DCIS is not an invasive cancer, it is considered a warning sign, as it could progress to invasive cancer if left untreated.

Breast Cancer Treatment for Stage 0:

Surgery: The most common treatment for DCIS is a lumpectomy, which removes the affected tissue while preserving the breast’s appearance. In some cases, a mastectomy (complete removal of the breast) may be recommended. It is essential to determine the breast cancer types before deciding on the procedure that should be followed.

Radiation therapy: After surgery, radiation therapy may be advised to destroy any remaining abnormal cells and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Hormone therapy: In cases where the DCIS is hormone receptor-positive, hormonal treatments like tamoxifen may be prescribed to block estrogen’s effects and prevent the development of invasive cancer.

Stage I: Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Stage I breast cancer types is characterized by small tumour growth that has not spread beyond the breast tissue. It is divided into two subcategories: Stage IA and Stage IB, based on tumor size and whether lymph nodes are involved.

Breast Cancer Treatment for Stage I:

Surgery: The primary treatment for Stage I breast cancer is surgery. Patients can choose between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy, depending on various factors such as tumour size and personal preference.

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is often recommended after a lumpectomy to reduce the risk of recurrence. In some cases, radiation may also be advised after a mastectomy. This would help prevent the causes of breast cancer from having a recurring effect on our bodies.

Chemotherapy: In certain situations, chemotherapy may be recommended, especially if the tumour is large or has a high risk of recurrence. Chemotherapy aims to destroy cancer cells that may have spread beyond the breast, and this helps tackle the breast causes symptoms as well.

Hormone therapy: For hormone receptor-positive tumours, hormone therapy is administered to block hormone-driven cancer growth. This treatment is typically used after surgery and/or radiation therapy.

Stage II: Locally Advanced Breast Cancer

Stage II breast cancer types are further divided into Stage IIA and Stage IIB, depending on the tumour size and extent of lymph node involvement. At this stage, cancer has typically spread to nearby lymph nodes or adjacent breast tissues.

Breast Cancer Treatment for Stage II:

Surgery: Surgery remains a fundamental treatment for Stage II breast cancer. Depending on the tumour’s size and extent, a lumpectomy or mastectomy may be recommended. Breast cancer symptoms act as the initial indicators.

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is often administered after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of local recurrence.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is frequently recommended for Stage II breast cancer, either before or after surgery, to target cancer cells throughout the body. The choice of chemotherapy regimen depends on the specific characteristics of the tumour.

Hormone therapy: If the cancer is hormone receptor-positive, hormone therapy may be incorporated into the treatment plan to block estrogen and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Stage III: Locally Advanced Breast Cancer

Stage III breast cancer, also known as locally advanced breast cancer, is divided into Stages IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC, based on the tumour size, lymph node involvement, and the extent of spread to nearby tissues.

Breast Cancer Treatment for Stage III:

Surgery: Surgery may still be recommended in some cases to remove the primary tumour. However, it may be followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (administered before surgery) is often used to shrink the tumour, making it easier to remove. This is followed by adjuvant chemotherapy to target any remaining cancer cells.

Radiation therapy: After surgery, radiation therapy may be recommended to eliminate any residual cancer cells.

Hormone therapy: For hormone receptor-positive tumours, hormone therapy may be an essential component of the treatment plan.

Targeted therapy: In some cases, targeted therapies such as Herceptin may be used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer.

Stage IV: Metastatic Breast Cancer

Stage IV breast cancer, also called metastatic breast cancer or advanced breast cancer, is the most advanced stage. At this point, cancer has spread to distant organs, such as the lungs, liver, bones, or brain.

Breast Cancer Treatment for Stage IV:

Systemic therapies: The primary focus of treatment in Stage IV is to manage the cancer and improve the patient’s quality of life. Systemic therapies, including chemotherapy, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy, are used to slow the progression of cancer, alleviate symptoms, and extend life.

Palliative care: Palliative care is an integral part of Stage IV breast cancer treatment, aiming to relieve symptoms, manage side effects, and enhance the patient’s overall well-being.

Clinical trials: Patients with Stage IV breast cancer may also consider participating in clinical trials to access experimental treatments and contribute to advancing breast cancer research. The causes of breast cancer and their respective symptoms are taken into account before moving ahead with these trials in the first place.

Final take:

Breast cancer is a significant health concern in India, affecting a growing number of women each year. Understanding the five stages of breast cancer and the corresponding treatment options is crucial for early detection and effective management. From precancerous changes to metastatic breast cancer, each stage requires a tailored approach to treatment.

Early detection through regular breast self-exams, clinical breast exams, and mammograms is essential for improving the prognosis of breast cancer patients in India. Additionally, awareness campaigns, education, and access to quality healthcare are vital in addressing this pressing issue.

Visit a super-speciality hospital in Gurgaon today to tackle and remedy breast cancer effectively.