In the U.S., over 90 percent of breast cancer diagnoses happen during the early breast cancer stages. Early detection is good news for the patient as it often translates to effective treatment.
Over 90 percent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed during the earlier stages of the disease. Early spotting is beneficial for the patient as it typically means better cancer treatment and a stronger prognosis.
Nonetheless, early diagnosis is only a fraction of the whole medical picture. Other disease characteristics, like hormone receptors and lymph nodes, can aid in prognosing results and help doctors and patients choose the right treatment.
Though breast cancer rates are increasing in North America and the United Kingdom, the fatality rate is falling. This declining death rate is accredited to more women getting mammograms, better evaluation processes, and more potent secondary treatments.
Thus if the majority of diagnosed breast cancer cases are discovered during the preliminary stages, what effect does that have on patients and what are the best treatment courses?
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Early breast cancer stages are referred to as TNM stages 1, 2 and 3a. This rating system gauges the advance of carcinoma. It also indicates that any tumors are operable.
Most instances of early-stage breast cancer are curable through surgery, radiation therapy or systemic therapy. The survival rate for patients diagnosed this early have a 5-year success rate of over 75%.
Typical Treatment Response
Treatment reaction generally hinges on lymph node engagement, the size and grade of any tumors, the age of the patient, hormone (estrogen and progesterone) receptors, and the status or condition of biologic markers like HER2/neu.
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Lymph Node Indicators
Lymph nodes are an effective way to predict the effects of breast cancer treatments. Essentially, the more positive lymph nodes that are present, the lower the patient’s survival rate and the higher the chances of relapse.
Typically, patients with early stage breast cancer are grouped into either those having negative nodes, 1 to 3 positive ones, 4 to 9, or 10 and higher.
The Size of Tumor
Tumor size is another indicator and can be especially useful for patients with negative lymph nodes. Essentially, if a patient has negative nodes and a tumor that is less than 1cm, the prognosis is very favorable.
The Grade of Tumor
The lower the tumor grade, the lower the risk for relapse. Nevertheless, due to the undependability of tumor information, most pathologists don’t trust this data for their medical assessment.
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The status of hormone receptors in the tumor is another indicator used by doctors when prognosing early stage breast cancer. Typically, patients who experience a receptor-positive cancer have a stronger survival rate than those who do not.
HER2/neu as an Indicator
HER2/neu is what’s called a marker – it’s a biological element typically present in the body or within the tumor in about 25% of all breast cancer cases. When HER2/neu levels are high, that usually translates to a more aggressive variety of breast cancer and a worse prognosis.
Age of the Patient
Generally Article Search, patients who are older (50 and up) have a better prognosis than patients under the age of 35.
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