October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among U.S. women after skin cancer? Approximately 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer in her lifetime.
It is important to understand breast cancer may not cause any warning signs or symptoms, which is why preventive health screenings, like mammograms and annual check-ups, are so important. With regular monitoring, your gynecologist can help diagnose and treat breast cancer before it becomes untreatable. While no one welcomes the diagnosis of breast cancer, women in the early stages of the disease have an extremely good chance of being cured.
What are the stages of breast cancer?
The good news is; most women can survive breast cancer if it is found and treated early. Doctors divide cancer into five distinct stages:
The cancer has been diagnosed early and the disease has not spread beyond the ducts or milk glands. This is a very early stage of cancer that is highly treatable and survivable.
The cancer has begun to spread to nearby tissue or lymph nodes. Similar to stage 0, stage 1 breast cancer is highly treatable and survivable. In fact, when breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage (it has not spread), the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%. (The five-year mark is usually used as the measure of a cure and the cancer is considered gone from the body.)
The cancer or tumor is still small, but it has grown, spread, or both, into the lymph noses. Often, women with stage 2 breast cancer can be treated successfully, however they are more likely to have chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy than women in stage 0 or 1.
While the cancer has not spread beyond the breast and into bones or organs, it has spread into the lymph nodes located deep inside the breast. This cancer is considered advanced, and is more difficult to treat, however, there are many effective treatment options available today.
The board-certified oncologists at Regional Cancer Care Associates’ Central Jersey Division are skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. For more information about how we combine expertise and passion for excellence in chemotherapy in Central New Jersey, call 732-390-7750.