Stage 0 Breast Cancer
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Stage 0, also called carcinoma in situ, is the earliest stage of breast cancer. Many stage 0 breast cancers do not require treatment. When they do, the approach is generally very successful.
The five-year survival rate for stage 0 breast cancer is 93%. This means that almost all women diagnosed with stage 0 disease will live for at least five years after being diagnosed. In fact, women diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer usually live long and healthy lives.
What Is Stage 0 Breast Cancer?
At stage 0, the breast mass is noninvasive. At this stage, there is no indication that the tumor cells have spread to other parts of the breast or other parts of the body. Often, stage 0 is considered a precancerous condition that requires close observation, but not treatment.
Stage 0 breast cancer is difficult to detect. There may not be a lump that can be felt during a self-examination, and there may be no other symptoms. However, breast self-exams and routine screening are always important and can often lead to early diagnosis, when the cancer is most treatable. Stage 0 disease is most often found by accident during a breast biopsy for another reason, such as to investigate an unrelated breast lump.
Types of Stage 0 Breast Cancer
There are two types of stage 0 breast cancer:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) occurs when breast cancer cells develop in the breast ducts. Today, stage 0 DCIS is being diagnosed more often because more women are having routine mammogram screenings. DCIS can become invasive, so early treatment can be important.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) occurs when abnormal cells develop in the lobules. These cells are not cancerous and this condition rarely becomes invasive cancer. However, women who develop LCIS may be at increased risk for developing breast cancer in the future. For women who develop LCIS, the risk of getting an invasive cancer is 20–25% over 15 years after the initial diagnosis.
Stage 0 Breast Cancer Treatment
A range of stage 0 breast cancer treatment options are available, including:
- Surveillance: Many stage 0 breast cancers do not require treatment. Instead, increased surveillance can help ensure that if the cancer does progress, it is caught at its earliest, most treatable stages. Surveillance can include multiple physical exams each year and one or two mammograms each year.
- Surgery: Men or women with stage 0 breast cancer may wish to consider surgery only when there is a family history of the disease, and/or if a genetic mutation that increases breast cancer risk is present. Surgical options include:
- Total mastectomy: Complete removal of the breast
- Lumpectomy plus radiation: Partial removal of the breast followed by radiation therapy
- Lumpectomy alone: Partial removal of the breast with no subsequent radiation
- Hormone Therapy: For individuals with cancer cells that test positive for hormone receptors, hormonal therapy may be an appropriate treatment option for stage 0 breast cancer. Hormone therapy at this stage may help prevent cancer from developing in the same or opposite breast.