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Arming Yourself with Information About Breast Cancer

Woman getting a mammogram

There are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. A breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating but arming yourself with the latest information about the disease can help you fight it.

Did you know that there are different stages of breast cancer? In fact, there are five, and they differ in how invasive the cancer is and whether it has spread to another part of the body. These different stages can also determine the best treatment options for the patient. If caught in the early stages women have a very high chance of survival, which is why it is important to get screened regularly and to know how to perform a proper breast-self exam.

  • Stage 0: There is no indication of cancerous or non-cancerous cells spreading from the affected breast or attacking the neighboring normal tissue.
  • Stage 1: There is a tumor in the breast but it is smaller than 2 centimeters and easily treatable.
  • Stage 2: The cancer has reached a size that is from 2 to 5 centimeters, but is still contained in the breast.
  • Stage 3: The cancer has reached a size that is larger than 5 cm in the breast and is also spreading to the nearby muscles.
  • Stage 4: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lung, bones and brain.

You Have Options for Treatment

Some things your doctor will factor in before talking to you about the available treatments are your age, the size of the tumor, your general health and your family history.

  • Surgery: involves removing the tumor and nearby parts of the breast.
  • Chemotherapy: uses a combination of drugs to either destroy cancer cells or slow them down.
  • Radiotherapy (radiation): uses high energy rays to kill cancer cells, if any are left after surgery.
  • Hormone therapy: destroys cancer cells if the cancer cells have hormone receptors.
  • Targeted therapy: used in combination with the other treatments and uses medicine to attack specific breast cancer cells without harming normal cells.

Drexel Cancer Care

Drexel Cancer Care utilizes the latest medical breakthroughs to treat all forms of cancer, including breast cancer. Our specialists are located centrally in Philadelphia, offering patients easy access to advanced cancer care, and are committed to providing patients with compassionate, comprehensive cancer treatment.

Drexel Cancer Care also provides patients with access to numerous support groups. These groups are offered free of charge to patients, families and caregivers.

The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.

The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.

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