The Promising Outlook for Early-Stage Breast Cancer
Breast cancer ranks among the top 10 most prevalent cancers in women, and there's a concerning trend of younger women being affected, with some cases emerging in their teens. The average age of breast cancer diagnosis hovers around 30 years old.
1. Stages of Breast Cancer
1.1. Early-Stage Breast CancerEarly-stage breast cancer is characterized by tumors smaller than 2cm in diameter, roughly the size of an unshelled peanut. Importantly, cancer has not metastasized, meaning it has not spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes remain unaffected.
1.2. Stage 2 Breast CancerIn this stage, tumors are larger than those in early-stage breast cancer but have not spread to distant body parts. Stage 2 can be further classified into different criteria:
- Tumor size ranges from 2 - 5 cm in diameter, possibly with or without lymph node involvement in the armpit.
- Tumor size is less than 5cm, approximately the size of a lemon, but with no spread to axillary lymph nodes.
- Tumor size is less than 2cm in diameter, yet cancer has spread to no more than 3 axillary lymph nodes.
- No tumors found in the breast, but breast cancer cells detected in no more than 3 axillary lymph nodes.
1.3. Stage 3 Breast CancerStage 3 signifies locally or regionally advanced cancer that may involve lymph nodes near the breast. Examples include:
- Tumors larger than 5cm in diameter with cancer cells that have reached axillary lymph nodes, although these nodes do not adhere together.
- Tumor size less than 5cm, but cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and the nodes are fusing or infiltrating surrounding tissues.
- Tumor size less than 5cm, but cancer has spread to lymph nodes above the collarbone.
- Inflammatory breast cancer, characterized by swollen, red, and textured breast skin due to cancer cells blocking lymph vessels. Inflammatory breast cancer is categorized as stage 3 breast cancer.
1.4. Stage 4 Breast CancerStage 4 represents the most advanced form of breast cancer, known as metastatic breast cancer. At this stage, cancer cells have disseminated to other body regions, commonly affecting the bones, brain, liver, and lungs.
2. Can Breast Cancer Be Cured?Modern breast cancer treatment methods, including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and targeted biological therapy, have significantly improved the quality of care. Nevertheless, early detection remains pivotal for effective treatment.
Vital measures for early detection include self-examinations and heightened body awareness. Women should engage in breast cancer screenings and conduct self-exams post-menstruation when the breasts are most pliable. Those with a family history of cancer face a higher genetic risk. Any detected breast changes or lumps warrant immediate medical examination.