If you are a woman who has contracted breast cancer that has yet to metastasize you have an average five-year survival rate of about 86%. What this means is that 86% of all women who have contracted breast cancer survive the disease for at least five years. Though that number is extremely high it is merely an overall average. In many categories the numbers are greater, and the survival rates are better. These numbers of course depend on which stage individuals detect their cancer and seek medical treatment.
Just like other cancers, breast cancer develops in different stages. Each of these stages has both a letter and a number. The cancer types are labeled based on a standard classification of cancers (T, N, and M and a scale from 0-IV). A T indicates the size of an individuals tumor, N means the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and M means distant metastasis. When a tumor spreads from the primary tumor to other areas and spreads tumors to the secondary areas thus forming the same type of tumors.
Tumors that have been labeled TX are tumors that aren’t capable of being assessed. T0 means that there is no evidence of any cancer. Tis means that an individual has a cancer that might be DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ) or Paget’s disease which is a rare form of cancer where the areola and/or nipple is actually cancerous.
Stage 0 cancers are the earliest of all. In Stage I, tumors are less than 2cm in size and have not spread. Stage II indicates a tumor that is 2-5cm in diameter, and Stage III one larger than 5cm. A Stage IV tumor has become attached to the chest wall and spread to the lymph nodes.
Because of the advances in diagnosis and treatment techniques many individuals are able to catch their cancer and eliminate it in the earliest stages.
For both women and men who are capable of obtaining treatment during Stage 0 or Stage I of their cancer there is a five year survival rate of about 100%. Men too can contract breast cancer, but their rates of contraction are far fewer than that of women. Individuals who have Stage II cancers the survival rate is between 81% and 92%. Your rate of survival will not start to dip until you get to Stage III, it is during Stage III that the survival rate is about 67%, and at Stage IV the rate is about 20%.
Beating the cancer odds is always possible. Even people who are in the later cancer stages are capable of surviving for longer periods of time than they might have expected, sometimes even more than seven years. Due to the technological advances that have occurred in both diagnostic and treatment methods the odds for individuals are improving significantly.
One new method of diagnosis is the QM-MSP (quantitative multiplex metylation-specific PCR). This technique was discovered in 2001. It is a chemical test that draws fluid from the breast in question. The fluid is then analyzed for certain chemicals attached to certain genes. Cancer clumps that contain as few as 50 cells are capable of being detected with an 86% rate of accuracy. These new methods make the detection of cancer simple, thus improving the chances that an individual’s treatment will be successful.
Treatments are also becoming better. Now available are hormone therapy, drugs that are molecule specific, and targeted radiation. These incredible methods are capable of saving the lives of tons of individuals.
Breast cancer is not a pleasant disease. It will always be an extremely serious disease. Breast cancer does not have to be life threatening. Breast cancer doesn’t even have to permanently scar. Breast cancer does not have to be fatal any longer.