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If you’ve ever seen a pink ribbon, you know what it means. If you don’t, it is a symbol of the fight against breast cancer and the thousands of women, and some men, it affects. Breast cancer is a type of cancer that grows in the tissue of the breast, or breasts. Signs of this type of cancer are often felt as lumps and can be caused from obesity, lack of exercise, drinking alcohol, family history, and many other factors. There are five stages of breast cancer, we will discuss what they are and the treatment that can be used in each stage.
Treating Stage 0 Breast Cancer
At this point, there’s no evidence to prove that cancerous cells have broken out of the breast’s point of origin. This means that the cancer can still be eradicated and further spread can be prevented if the right precautions are taken. There’s no need for chemotherapy or treatment of the lymph nodes, however, there are a few stage 0 breast cancer treatment options available.
Stage 0 Treatment Options
Stage 0 breast cancer treatment include the following, and can be considered early stage breast cancer treatments:
- Going in for a total mastectomy which is a surgical operation to remove the breast
- Lumpectomy with added radiation: You can do it without radiation, but that option is only for a small group of women.
A lumpectomy is the surgical removal of a lump inside of the breast, where it has not spread yet.
Treating Stage 1 Breast Cancer
At this point, the cancer has broken out and is starting to grow in the breast tissue surrounding the point of origin. This is the most dangerous stage since from here on it becomes a snowball effect that is hard to keep in control. This stage is further divided into IA and IB.
Stage 1 Treatment Options
Early stage breast cancer treatments for stage 1 include the following:
- Total Mastectomy
- Lumpectomy with radiation included
- Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection
- Chemotherapy only to reduce the risk of continued occurrence
Treating Stage 2 Breast Cancer
The second stage is further divided into IIA and IIB. There aren’t any tumors yet, but cancer bigger than 2mm can be found and has spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage 2 Treatment Options
Treatment options for this stage include:
- The same treatment listed in stage one
- Chemotherapy is a very common recommendation at this point
- Axillary lymph node biopsy
Treating Stage 3 Breast Cancer
At stage three of the spread of cancer inside the breast, tumors can be found. If the tumor is larger than 5cm, you may find a large portion of the breast to be red and flimflammed. It may hurt and be sensitive to touch. There are a few different terms used throughout the stages, and if the tumor cannot be found, the term used is triple negative breast cancer.
Stage 3 Treatment Options
Treatment for stage 3 include the following:
- Chemotherapy is needed in order to reduce the size of the tumor
- Chemotherapy is followed by a total mastectomy
- Targeted therapy can also be used to treat cancer of certain characteristics
Treating Stage 4 Breast Cancer
At stage four, the cancer becomes a very serious threat, beyond the breast. Words such as “advanced” or “metastatic” are used to describe stage 4 of this type of cancer. At this point, the cancer cells may have spread and are affecting the lungs, skin, brain, liver, and bones.
Stage 4 Treatment Options
Treatment at stage 4 is dangerous but more potent and includes:
- Radiation, surgery, or a combination of both
- Almost always, doctors will recommend chemotherapy at this stage
- To treat other parts of the body, radiation can be used to relieve uncomfortable symptoms
In conclusion, there are thousands of women, and men, fighting breast cancer every day. Many don’t know they have breast cancer until it’s too late. For those individuals currently fighting breast cancer, we hope this article has helped you understand what stage you are in. Triple negative breast cancer is a popular term used at this stage since there aren’t any tumors found. We will find the cure to this and other types of cancer soon, but for now, we need to continue putting up a fight.