Breast cancer awareness programmes are a big thing at the moment as many groups try and increase the awareness of breast cancer. It helps if you know what to look for, the different stages and treatment options.
Breast cancer has been on the rise for many years and there are certain things you need to know in order to reduce the risk of falling into the trap of waiting until it’s too late.
Don’t Stop Having Routing Health Checks
A routine health check at the doctor’s surgery can be such a drag, but it’s important that even the healthiest of fittest person visit their doctor at least once a year for a complete health assessment.
You’ve heard the saying “prevention is better than cure” and these checks ensure that whether you have a slight illness or a serious disease, it can be managed quickly and effectively.
Breast Cancer on the Rise
While there are constantly new technologies being introduced into the medical profession to assist with breast cancer, this cancer is still on the rise with over 48,000 women being diagnosed each and every year.
Looking at the 2010 figures there were 49, 564 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. There were 11,556 breast cancer related deaths and the survival rate was seventy seven percent.
With awareness being pushed throughout the country the survival rate has increased to 81.6 percent, at the same time more breast cancers are being diagnosed on an annual basis.
How is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?
Chances are your doctor has already given you instructions on how to test your own breasts on a regular basis for any unusual lumps and bumps. The minute you feel a bump no matter how small, you shouldn’t ignore it but rather head to a medical professional to have it checked.
They will send you for what is called a mammography which takes an image of your breast and determines if there is any tumour present. Should a tumour be found you will be sent for further testing which may include a number of test from a node biopsy to see if the cancer has spread to your lymph nodes to x-rays and CT scans?
Understanding Breast Cancer Stages
Breast cancer is determined according to four stages.
Stage 0 is the non-invasive breast cancer, but if it is left it can become invasive over time. This is often when abnormal cells are found in the breast lining and these cells can be treated quickly and effectively to reduce the risk of them developing any further.
Stage I is measured in two ways. Stage IA is when a tumour of two centimetres or smaller is found but it has not spread in any way, while stage IB is when clusters of cancerous cells are found that are no bigger than two millimetres in the lymph nodes without a tumour in the breast or a tumour in the breast is also found no greater than two centimetres.
Stage II is also measured in two ways with stage IIA being when no tumour is found in the breast or the tumour in the breast is smaller than two centimetres and cancerous clusters are found in the lymph nodes near the breastbone which are two millimetres or smaller.
Stage IIB is when the tumour in the breast is between two centimetres and five centimetres or there are clutters no bigger than two millimetres in the lymph nodes. Another IIB example would be a tumour of between two and five centimetres with the cancer having spread to one to three of the auxiliary lymph nodes near the breastbone.
Stage III has three measurements with IIIA being no tumour in the breast but cancer cells are found in four to nine auxiliary lymph nodes or the lymph nodes near the breast bone. There can be a tumour larger than five centimetres with clutters of less than two millimetres in the lymph nodes or the tumour is bigger than five centimetres with clusters in one to three auxiliary lymph nodes or the lymph nodes near the breast bone.
Stage IIIB is given to any size tumour where the cancer has spread to the chest wall and causes swelling or an ulcer. Nine auxiliary lymph nodes or the lymph nodes near the breast bone are effected. In some cases the cancer can spread to the skin, this is called inflammatory breast cancer.
Stage IIIC is when there is no tumour in the breast or a tumour is found of any size but the cancer has spread to the skin causing an ulcer or it has spread to the chest wall and ten auxiliary lymph nodes are effected.
Stage IV is the most serious breast cancer of all and that is given to breast cancer which has spread to other organs in the body including the brain, liver and lungs.
There are a number of treatments available and they are normally offered depending on the stage of breast cancer you have been diagnosed with.
Treatment for stage I breast cancer is often a partial or full mastectomy where the lymph nodes will be evaluated and radiation therapy is often offered after the surgery. Hormone therapies and adjuvant systemic therapies are also often offered if the tumour was larger than one centimetre.
Stage II breast cancer is almost always treated with surgery and radiation. In some cases chemotherapy will be offered before surgery to reduce the size of the tumour.
Stage III treatment usually includes a mastectomy combined with radiation, this will include lymph node dissection and chemotherapy will be offered before and after surgery.
Stage IV can often be managed with surgery and radiation, often you will be offered a number of different treatments to help shrink the tumours and improve the symptoms.
Breast Cancer Awareness
Breast cancer awareness campaigns run throughout the world educating women on the symptoms and treatments of breast cancer in the hope that early detection can improve the survival rates.
The pink ribbon campaign is probably one of the biggest and widely known breast cancer awareness programs and they run a number of events that anyone can get involved in in order to increase breast cancer awareness.
Author: Thank you to Jennifer for this article. Jennifer supports the Cancer Research UK organisation and the work they do, are you involved in raising awareness and how?