Public health researchers have stipulated guidelines for breast cancer patients, especially those in the early stage of the disease and those above 70 years old. The number of cancer survivors is increasing geometrically due to improved treatment and early diagnosis.
However, modern research suggest that annual follow up screening exercise, at least two times yearly would be beneficial for younger postmenopausal women, while mammography schedule two times every year is recommended for older women. These methods are highly cost-effective.
Surgery is one of the primary treatments for patients at the early stage of breast cancer – over 45% of patients are cured with surgery alone. Surgery include axillary lymph nodes, pathologic staging of the tumor, and resection of the tumor and so on.
Adjuvant treatment involves treating micro-metastatic diseases, systemic therapy, radiation therapy and regional lymph nodes.
Stage by stage treatment of invasive breast cancer
If the cancer is small, breast-conserving surgery would be the right treatment, but if it is too large doctors will try mastectomy. Radiation is required for patients who have either mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery. Some doctors administer chemo before surgery- according to them, it is more useful to do it rather than after surgery.
These cancers are still at the early stage, so they are relatively small, and have not really spread into the sentinel lymph node.
This type of cancer can be treated with partial mastectomy or lumpectomy. In other words, it is referred as breast-conserving surgery. Radiation therapy is administered after the breast-conserving surgery. Further research suggests that not getting enough radiation would make the cancer to resurface again.
Also, some doctors will recommend adjuvant hormone therapy in patients with hormone-receptor-positive, even if the tumor is very small. But if the tumor is less than 0.5 cm, adjuvant hormone therapy is not usually recommended.
This type of cancers has spread through lymph nodes. At this stage, the patient can be treated with mastectomy or surgery. Also, patients can as well be treated with radiation therapy after the surgery. In order to remove the cancer properly, breast reconstruction would be done.
Systemic therapy is recommended on patients at this level of cancer. This can come in the form of HER2 targeted drugs, chemo, and hormone therapy. Neoadjuvant treatment remains the best option for people with large tumors.
Any breast cancer that is at the stage 3, means that the tumor has grown, (about 2 inches or greater than 5cm), growing towards the nearby lymph nodes or tissues. To tackle this problem effectively, doctors can subscribe for chemo before surgery.
If the tumor refuses to shrink, a mastectomy will be carried out. Cancers at this stage doesn’t need sentinel lymph node biopsy. However, radiation therapy can be done after surgery.
Usually, drug treatments for stages 1 to 3 breast cancer include HER2 targeted drugs, chemo, hormone therapy or all of the above. All these methods are recommended by health care professionals.
This is a very dangerous stage, because at this point, the cancer has spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes. It has escalated and affected any part of the body like lungs, bones, liver, brain, eye or even any organ.
Although, doctors might carry out radiation or surgery, but systemic therapy remains the best treatment. Though, this is subject to other factors like targeted therapies, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or combination of all these treatments.
The treatments can reduce symptoms, shrink tumors, and enable the patients to live longer but it can’t give total cure to the patient. This process of curing the patient might take months. During the time of treatment, the patient might be suffering serious problems like problems breathing.
However, the doctor will explain to you the risks and benefits of any treatment, whether it is to prevent, treat, or cure the symptoms before prescribing them.
At some point, the doctor can apply regional chemo such as injecting some fluid into the liver or around the brain. A woman’s age or overall health will determine whether the medication will work or not.
Evaluation and conclusion
Some breast cancer finds it difficult to heal due to local therapies or previous treatment the patient has had over time. This is why it is good that you go to regular checkup to a seasoned health professional. For patients whose breast cancers have escalated to their bones, the doctor might simply recommend calcium and Vitamin D.
This method can either slow its growth or shrink the cancer for many years, but not a guaranteed cure. If the cancer comes back after years, you are required to visit your doctor immediately you notice the symptoms. These are the acceptable new model of follow up for breast cancer patients. Stay healthy and say ‘NO’ to breast cancer.