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Breast Cancer Stages and Survival Rates

By: Moses Wright

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%.

Breast cancer, like most other forms, progresses in stages. T, N, M and 0-IV are common ways to categorize the different stages. The alphabet T denotes the size of the tumor while alphabet N denotes that it has spread to the lymph nodes and the alphabet M means 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. Should there be no sign of cancer, the term 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.

When treatment is given to patients who are at Stage 0 or 1, the survival rates are 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. Women who have advanced stages of cancer have been known to live for more than 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. It was invented in 2001 and it involves tests done on fluids taken from the breast area. In this test, the chemical analysis can detect minute cancerous lumps that only contain 50 cells and has an 86% reliability. 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 getting more advanced as there are targeted radiation, hormone therapy and more specific drugs available.

Breast cancer is no longer the death sentence it used to be. While still serious, the odds of beating this disease are high, and treatments are far less invasive than in the past.

Moses Wright is a health conscious webmaster. He started this site to create more awareness about breast cancer. You can find his site at: http://www.healthfitnesswellbeing.com/breast_cancer.htm

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