The most common cancer among women is breast cancer. The earlier that it is caught the easier the treatment will be. With most cancer, there are four stages I, II, III, IV with four being the worst stage. With IV it usually means that the cancer has spread to different parts of the body. The stages of cancer are based on characteristics and include the size of the cancer, whether the cancer is invasive or non-invasive and if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The more advance stage breast cancer is the harder it can be to treat. Most women that have stage I breast cancer live for more than eight years once it has been found and treatment has started.
If you have stage breast cancer I, the doctor and you will come up with a treatment plan. After finding a lump and having a mammogram, the doctor might schedule you for a biopsy. The biopsy will usually show if the lump is actually cancer. Some lumps that are found turn out to be benign and nothing more has to be done about them. You might have to go back for another mammogram within six months to makes sure that no other changes have taken place. But, if the lump turns out to have cancer cells in it then the doctor will discuss your options of what the next steps will be. One of the first steps will be for the doctor to do surgery and see how advanced the cancer is. The doctor may perform a lumpectomy in which just the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue is removed. He may or may not take part of the lymph nodes that are close to the site to make sure that the cancer has not spread.
After having a lumpectomy done, the next step for stage breast cancer is usually radiation treatment. This will help to kill off cancer cells that might have been missed. If you have stage I cancer and have a mastectomy there is usually no need to have any other treatment since the whole breast and tissue was removed. If you have only had a lumpectomy, another treatment that can be done is chemotherapy. It is used to help kill off any remaining cancer cells that might have been missed. Some doctors will also suggest hormone therapy. This is for those women that have hormone receptor- positive cancer that feeds off of estrogen. Hormone therapy will basically rid your body of hormones and starve the cancer. A new approach to stage breast cancer treatment for stage I is biological therapy. This is a new treatment to help treat breast cancer that can spread. It stops the protein HER2 which can make cancer spread quickly. It is often used in conjunction with chemotherapy. Recent studies have led to its use in early stages of breast cancer. Some women also try clinical trials for stage breast cancer I and this is how most of the treatments that are avaliable for breast cancer have started.
Tips and comments
Having a yearly mammogram is very important to catch stage breast cancer at its very earliest. By doing so, you are giving yourself a head start in treatment. The faster that breast cancer is caught, the better off you will be.