Updated: Dec 26, 2020
What Is Breast Cancer? Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts.
It is common among women, there are more than 200,000 cases of Breast Cancer per year. Breast Cancer is treatable and requires a medical diagnosis via lab tests or imaging by a medical professional.
Symptoms of breast cancer include a lump in the breast, bloody discharge from the nipple, and changes in the shape or texture of the nipple or breast.
Treatment depends on the stage of cancer. It may consist of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
Some people can have no symptoms but may experience breast discomfort, inverted nipple, lumps, or nipple discharge. Redness or swollen lymph nodes are common in women who have Breast Cancer as well.
Breast Cancer Treatment varies, depending on the stage of cancer it may consist of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
Different Stages of Breast Cancer - If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, you’ll want to know what stage it is. Doctors have many ways to find out what stage of breast cancer you have. Clues come from physical exams, biopsies, X-rays, bone scans and other images, and blood tests. Make sure you tell your doctor when you don’t understand something and you want more information. A breast cancer diagnosis is a lot to take in.
A doctor, called a pathologist, puts tissue samples from the breast and lymph nodes under the microscope to find out even more about your potential chance of breast cancer. Based on these findings, doctors string together letters and numbers to assign a stage to every case of breast cancer. It may seem like a strange code, but it’s really just a way to pinpoint exactly what’s going on with your cancer.
Think of it like this: The longer the list of letters and numbers, the more exact the diagnosis and the more precise the treatment plan.
The stages are the number zero and the Roman numerals I, II, III, or IV (often followed by A, B, or C). In general, the higher the number, the more advanced the cancer. But there’s more to it than that.
Stage 0. The cancer has been diagnosed early. It started in the breast ducts or milk glands and has stayed there. You’re likely to hear or see the words in situ, meaning “in the original place.”
Stage I. Starting at this level, breast cancer is called invasive, meaning it has broken free to attack healthy tissue.
Stage 1A means the cancer has spread into the fatty breast tissue. The tumor itself is no larger than a shelled peanut, or there may be no tumor
Stage IB - means some cancer cells, but just tiny amounts, have been found in a few lymph nodes.
Stage II. The cancer has grown, spread, or both.
Stage II - Means the tumor in the breast is still small, if there's one at all. There may be no cancer in the lymph nodes, or it may have spread to as many as three.
Stage IIA - breast tumor is bigger -- it may be the size of a walnut or as big as a lime. It may or may not be in any lymph nodes.
Stage III - The cancer has not spread to bones or organs, but it’s considered advanced, and it’s harder to fight.
Stage III A means the cancer has been found in up to nine of the lymph nodes that form a chain from your underarm to your collarbone. Or it has spread to or enlarged the lymph nodes deep in your breast. In some cases there is a large tumor in the breast, but other times there’s no tumor.
Stage III B - means the tumor has grown into the chest wall or skin around your breast, even if it hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage III C - means cancer has been found in 10 or more lymph nodes, or has spread above or below your collarbone. It’s also IIIC if fewer lymph nodes outside the breast are affected but those inside it are enlarged or cancerous.
Stage IV - Breast cancer cells have spread far away from the breast and lymph nodes right around it. The most common sites are the bones, lungs, liver, and brain. This stage is described as
Doctors also group cancers by the letters T, N, or M. Each of those letters tells you something “metastatic,” meaning it has spread beyond the region of the body where it was first found.
"TNM" System for Breast Cancer:
“T” stands for tumor, or the lump of cancer found in the breast itself. The higher the number assigned after it, the bigger or wider the mass.
“N” stands for nodes, as in lymph nodes. These small filters are found throughout the body, and they're especially dense in and around the breast. They're meant to catch cancer cells before they travel to other parts of the body. Here, too, a number (0-III) tells you whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes near the breast and, if so, how many.
“M” stands for metastasis. The cancer has spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes.
Different Types of Surgery Options for Breast Cancer Includes:
Mammaplasty: Plastic surgery to increase or reduce the size of the breasts, or to reconstruct a breast.
Tissue expansion: Inserting a balloon under the skin and then gradually expanding it to stretch and grow the skin and surrounding tissue.
Lymph node dissection: Surgical removal of a lymph node. Lumpectomy: Surgical removal of a lump (tumor) in the breast.
Mastectomy: Surgical removal of some or all of the breast.
Teletherapy: Radiation therapy that uses x-rays or other high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors.
Radiation therapy: Treatment that uses x-rays and other high-energy rays to kill abnormal cells.
Oncologist: Specializes in cancer.
Radiation Oncologist: Treats and manages cancer by prescribing radiation therapy.
Primary Care Provider (PCP): Prevents, diagnoses, and treats diseases.