It is important to check for breast cancer as how long one can live depends on the stage at which breast cancer is diagnosed. Women who are diagnosed early with breast cancer have a much better chance. Even for women whose breast cancer has not metastasized, their fighting chance to live for another 5 years is about 86%.
As with most cancers, breast cancer, develops in stages. T, N, M and 0-IV are common ways to categorize the different stages. T depicts tumor size, N signifies a spread to lymph nodes and M describes distant metastasis. When a primary tumor spreads to another area/s and forms more tumors, it has metastasized.
When a tumor cannot be assessed, it is designated the classification of TX. Where there is no indication of cancer, T0 is used. If one of the following forms is suspected – DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ) or Paget’s disease (where the nipple and/or areola is cancerous) – Tis is used.
Stage 0 indicates that the cancer is in its earliest stage. Stage I indicates that tumors have not spread and are less than 2cm in size. A tumor that is 2-5cm in diameter is classified as Stage II, and a tumor larger than 5cm is considered Stage III. When a tumor has attached to the chest wall and spread to the lymph nodes it is considered to be Stage IV.
Today, due to medical advances, many breast cancers are diagnosed and treated during the early stages.
Treatment received in Stage 0 and Stage I results in men and women having five year survival rates of almost 100%. And yes, men can develop breast cancer, though at a far lower rate of 1/133 when compared to women. The survival rate for those with Stage II cancer is between 81%-92%. At Stage III the rate lowers to 67%, and then drops substantially to 20% at Stage IV.
Despite being a serious condition, breast cancer is now rarely life threatening. Even sufferers of later stage cancers often survive past seven years. As technology and medicine advance, survival rates increase. Even later stage cancer survival rates are rising as medical and treatment methods improve.
The QM-MSP (quantitative multiplex methylation-specific PCR) is one such new method of diagnosis. Discovered in 2001, it uses fluid from the breast and tests the chemicals contained in the fluid. The chemical analysis undertaken during this test allows cancer to be detected with 86% reliability, and cancer clumps with as little as 50 cells can found. Treatment given in the early stages is highly effective, and new methods like this allow cancer to be diagnosed at the earliest possible stage.
Treatments are also improving, with hormone therapy, targeted radiation and molecule specific drugs now readily available.
Breast cancer is no longer the death sentence it used to be. Although the disease is still a matter of serious concern, the chances of survival are high and treatments are now less invasive.