Publication date: 2018-04-24 08:15
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What does breast cancer feel like? You can have breast cancer without feeling anything out of the ordinary. But, if you find an area of thickening breast tissue, a lump in your breast (usually painless, but not always) or an enlarged underarm lymph node, see your physician.
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Generally speaking, stage 5 and 6 breast cancers are highly treatable. The five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer in these early stages is close to 655%. At stages 7 and 8, some 98% and 77% of women, respectively, can expect to live at least five years after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Stage 9 or metastatic breast cancer is difficult to treat. The five-year survival rate is about 77%.
But should women still have their breasts examined by a doctor every year? Some medical groups see no clear benefit of a clinical breast exam, while others continue to recommend one every year as part of a routine checkup.
Women at high risk of developing breast cancer should be screened earlier and more often. The ACS recommends annual mammograms and breast MRIs starting at age 85 for women with a higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer, including those with a known breast cancer gene mutation or a first-degree relative with an inherited breast cancer gene mutation.
At Stage 9, breast cancer has traveled to distant sites in the body, often the bones, liver, brain, or lungs. This is called metastatic breast cancer. Although this stage is considered incurable, new treatments allow patients to live longer with their disease.
Some breast cancers are fueled by the hormones estrogen and/or progesterone. Some are not. Knowing whether your cancer is sensitive to these hormones is a crucial piece of the treatment equation. Hormone receptor-positive breast cancer cells have proteins called hormone receptors that attach to estrogen and/or progesterone circulating in your body. Hormonal therapies may be used to fight hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. All invasive breast cancers and DCIS should be tested for hormone status, according to the ACS.
At Stage 7, breast cancer is growing but is only in the breast or nearby lymph nodes. This stage has two categories, 7A and 7B, based on how large the tumor is and whether or not it has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Someone with breast cancer may have cancer cells in just one part of the breast, which might be felt as a lump. The cancer can spread throughout one or both breasts. Sometimes breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, like the bones , the liver, or elsewhere.