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The Stages of Breast Cancer Explained

Breast cancer affects one in four women, and it can be daunting to understand all the different stages and treatment options that are available; especially if you have been recently diagnosed. To help you through the specifics of all the different breast cancer stages and what they mean for your personal treatment plan, the Breast Institute Houston has put together an informative piece to walk you through every stage of breast cancer. Find an attentive and highly recommended breast cancer specialist in Houston when you contact the Breast Institute Houston to schedule your first appointment today.

Breast Cancer Stage Zero

While most patients assume that cancer stages begin at stage one, many don’t know that there is a stage zero in the diagnostic process. Stage zero for breast cancer patients indicates the identification of cancerous cells before they have had time to truly impact the overall health of a patient. This means that the cells have been found in or near the breast tissue, milk glands, or ducts, and it has not yet spread to any other areas of the body. This stage is the best-case scenario for breast cancer patients, as the cells have not multiplied, symptoms are extremely minor if they even appear, and patients have the highest rate of recovery.

Breast Cancer Stage I and II

For patients with stage one or two of breast cancer, the aggressive cells have multiplied, and they are in attack mode. This means that the healthy tissue near or in the breasts is at risk for being infiltrated by cancerous cells. At this stage, patients are still considered to have much better odds than patients who are further along, there may or may not be a small tumor present, and the symptoms are still minor. To treat patients with stage I cancer, physicians can choose to either perform a surgery to remove the tumor and cancerous cells, or they can suggest rounds of chemotherapy to shrink any harmful cells. For patients who have developed to stage II of breast cancer, a combination of both surgery and chemotherapy radiation is often prescribed to attack the more intense cells. If you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and you need a top breast cancer specialist in Houston, contact the Breast Institute Houston today to schedule your first appointment now.

Breast Cancer Stage III

When the cancerous cells have begun to spread beyond just the fatty tissues of your breasts and extended to other areas of your body like your armpits and collarbone area, cancer has evolved to stage three. During stage three, cancerous cells have not yet infiltrated deep into the bone or organs, but they are close, and fighting them off is incredibly difficult. To fight this aggressive stage, doctors continue to treat the tumors with surgery when possible, and the chemotherapy radiation treatments become more frequent and extensive. To appropriately target all potentially harmful cells, the radiation must be distributed to all areas in order to effectively try to shrink them. Chemotherapy operates on a case by case basis; with some patients improving over time, and others developing advanced cancer cells that do not respond to the chemotherapy treatments, in which case the doctors would attempt other kinds of cancer medication. Because chemotherapy is a radiation-based treatment, patients with both stage three and four experience symptoms of hair loss, intense nausea, anemia, memory problems, and nail discoloration.

Breast Cancer Stage IV

With a stage four diagnosis of breast cancer, the life expectancy rate drops considerably, and survival rates for both men and women hover around 27 percent. At this stage, cancer cells have progressed beyond tissue and lymph node attacks and have infiltrated the bones, organs, skin and even the patient’s brain. Because of this intense spread of harmful cells, treatment options vary based on the patient and their chosen breast cancer specialist in Houston. Surgery and chemotherapy radiation are still the most effective and heavily utilized treatment options, and most patients will receive a combination of the two. If you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and you need the best breast cancer specialist in Houston to help you through your personal treatment plan, contact the Breast Institute Houston right away to get started with a physician today.

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Houston Breast Cancer Surgeon

Darlene M. Miltenburg MD, FRCS(C), FACS
Call US 713-795-0161
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