The survival rate of any kind of cancer depends on the stage of its detection. This article enlists the breast cancer survival rate by stage.
The survival rate for breast cancer mainly describes the time duration a woman will survive after diagnosis, and the risk of re-occurrence after the treatment. However, this number has fortunately improved due to early detection and availability of new treatments. In the US, more than 40,000 women are diagnosed with it every year, and it is one of the most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide. It is the malignant proliferation of epithelial cells in the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk) of the breast. It occurs in both men and women, however, the occurrence in males is quite rare. It normally affects women in between ages of 45 and 55. However, cell productions in the tumor can vary in women as per their age groups.
A woman with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer can also be at a risk of developing the same. Early periods at an age of 11, late menopause, or too much exposure to X-rays or radiation are some other causes that may lead to this disease in women. Its survival rate is dependent on the stage of the disease.
Stages and Symptoms
Whether the cancer is invasive or non-invasive, lymph nodes are involved or not, or if it has spread beyond the breast, all these are key factors that help in deciding the stages and grades. The most prominent sign of this condition is a growth of a lump or thickening of the breast, and swollen lymph nodes in the underarm (axillary area). However, not all breast lumps are malignant, lumps detected in the area above the collarbone (supraclavicular area) indicate that the cancer has spread up to the lymph nodes.
Early Stage Symptoms
- Swelling and persistent tenderness of the breast
- Scaling or itching (called pruritus) on the nipple
- Swelling in the armpit (lymph nodes)
- Sudden discharge form the nipples
- Scaly or pitted skin on nipple
- Pulling in of the nipples or other areas of the breast
- Unusual breast pain or discomfort
Advanced Stage Symptoms
- Development of a breast lump and breast ulcer
- Sudden increase in the mature breast size
- Change in color and texture of areola (dark pigmented area surrounding the nipple)
- Continuous itching in the skin of the breast
Survival Rates According to Stages
As mentioned earlier, the rate of survival primarily depends on factors, like the location of the tumor, it’s size and shape, rate of cell division, genetic factors, or up to what extend the tumor has spread.
|0||Tis N0 M0||Carcinoma in situ, i.e. in place, no tumor is regional lymph nodes, no distant metastases.||100%|
|I||T1 N0 M0||Tumor is less than or equal to 2 centimeters, no tumor is regional lymph nodes, no distant metastases.||100%|
|IIA||T0 N1 M0
T1 N1 M0
T2 N0 M0
|No evidence of primary tumor, metastases to movable ipsilateral nodes, no distant metastases.
Tumor is less than or equal to 2 centimeters, metastases to movable ipsilateral nodes, no distant metastases.
Tumor is between 2 and 5 centimeters, no tumor is regional lymph nodes, no distant metastases.
|IIB||T2 N1 M0
T3 N0 M0
|Tumor is between 2 and 5 centimeters, metastases to movable ipsilateral nodes, no distant metastases.
Tumor is over 5 centimeters, no tumor is regional lymph nodes, no distant metastases.
|IIIA||T0 N2 M0
T1 N2 M0
T2 N2 M0
T3 N1, N2 M0
|No evidence of primary tumor, metastases to fixed ipsilateral nodes, no distant metastases.
Tumor is less than or equal to 2 centimeters, metastases to fixed ipsilateral nodes, no distant metastases.
Tumor is between 2 and 5 centimeters, metastases to fixed ipsilateral nodes, no distant metastases.
Tumor is over 5 centimeters, metastases to movable or fixed ipsilateral nodes, no distant metastases.
|IIIB||T4 Any N M0
Any T N3 M0
|Tumor extends to chest wall, any nodal involvement, no distant metastases.
Any primary tumor involvement, metastases to ipsilateral internal mammary nodes, no distant metastases.
|IV||Any T Any N M1||Any primary tumor involvement, any nodal involvement, distant metastases.||20%|
T= Status of Primary tumor; N = Regional lymph nodes; M = Distant Metastases
Before selecting any treatment option, the patient has to undergo a staging process in which doctors identify the cancer stage. Tests, like clinical breast exams, biopsy, and certain imaging tests, such as a chest X-ray, mammogram (X-ray film of the soft tissue of the breast), bone scan, CT scan, and MRI scan are performed to assess the size and location of the patient’s cancer.
The treatment normally involves surgery, followed by radiation, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy. The surgery mainly comprises the removal of the lump and the lymph nodes in the armpits. In chemotherapy, medications that obstruct the growth of cancer cells and divisions are given to the patient. High dose chemotherapy with autologous bone marrow transplantation has also been used to amend the survival rates. Hormonal therapy or radiation comprising X-rays or high energy rays are subjected to the patient to stop or slow down the growth of cancerous cells in the body. However, recurrences usually occur within 5 years of treatment. Research has revealed that 25% of recurrences and half of new cancers in the opposite breast occur after 5 years.
Studies show that the 5-year survival rate is approximately 80%, and about 88% of women diagnosed with breast cancer live longer, for at least the next 10 years. Sadly, women in lower social and economic groups still have statistically lower rates of survival than women in higher groups. However, with the advances in the methods of staging, screening, and treatment, the mortality rates have declined to nearly 20% over the past decade.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.