Breast cancer, like most other forms, progresses in stages. A standard classification of letters and numbers is used to describe the stages - T, N and M and 0-IV. T depicts tumor size, N signifies a spread to lymph nodes and M describes distant metastasis. Should a main tumor affect other parts and results in the formation of other tumors, it is known to have metastasized.
A tumor is noted as TX when it defies assessment. Where there is no indication of cancer, 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. Should a tumor adhere to the wall of the chest and the cancer cells spread to the lymph nodes, it is considered to be in Stage 4.
Today, due to medical advances, many breast cancers are diagnosed and treated during the early stages.
Treatment received in Stage 0 and Stage I results in men and women having five year survival rates of almost 100%. And yes, men can develop breast cancer, though at a far lower rate of 1/133 when compared to women. For those with cancer in Stage II, the survival rate is at 81% to 92%. At Stage III the rate lowers to 67%, and then drops substantially to 20% at Stage IV.
Although it is a very serious illness, breast cancer is seldom life threatening. Women who have advanced stages of cancer have been known to live for more than seven years. The chances for survival go up as the world improves in its medical and technological know-how. Even later stage cancer survival rates are rising as medical and treatment methods improve.
A fairly new method of diagnosing cancer is the QM-MSP (quantitative multiplex methylation-specific PCR) method. It was invented in 2001 and it involves tests done on fluids taken from the breast area. The chemical analysis undertaken during this test allows cancer to be detected with 86% reliability, and cancer clumps with as little as 50 cells can found. When discovered early, breast cancer treatments are usually very effective and there are new means to diagnose breast cancer early.
Treatments are also improving, with hormone therapy, targeted radiation and molecule specific drugs now readily 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.
Source: Moses Wright, Articlealley