Stage 1 Breast Cancer
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Stage 1 breast cancer is the earliest stage of invasive breast cancer. At this stage, the cancer cells have spread beyond the original location and into the surrounding breast tissue.
The eight-year survival rate for stage 1 breast cancer is about 90%, which means that most women will live for at least eight years after being diagnosed. Most women diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer usually live long and healthy lives.
Because a stage 1 tumor is small, it may be difficult to detect. However, breast self-exams and routine screening are always important and can often lead to early diagnosis, when the cancer is most treatable.
Types of Stage 1 Breast Cancer
Stage 1 is divided into two categories:
- Stage 1A: The tumor measures 2 cm or smaller (about the size of a pea or shelled peanut), and has not spread outside the breast.
- Stage 1B: Small clusters of cancer cells measuring no more than 2 mm, are found in the lymph nodes, and either there is no tumor inside the breast, or the tumor is small, measuring 2 cm or less.
The survival rate for stage 1A breast cancer may be slightly higher than for stage 1B. However, all women with stage 1 breast cancer are considered to have a good prognosis.
At stage 1, TNM designations help describe the extent of the disease. For example, there may or may not be cancer cells in the lymph nodes, and the size of the tumor may range from 1 cm to 2 cm. Most commonly, stage 1 breast cancer is described as:
- T: T1, T2, T3 or T4, depending on the size and/or extent of the primary tumor.
- N0: Usually, cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes
- M0: The disease has not spread to other sites in the body
Stage 1 Breast Cancer Treatment Options
Stage 1 breast cancer treatments may include a variety of options, such as:
- Surgery: For stage 1 breast cancer, surgery is a standard approach. A mastectomy (complete removal of the breast) may be appropriate for some women. When the tumor is small, a lumpectomy to remove only the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue might be appropriate. If you choose to have a lumpectomy, your doctor may recommend a course of radiation after surgery to help ensure that all of the cancer cells are eliminated. Only very rarely is radiation given following a mastectomy. In addition, removal of the axillary lymph nodes might be recommended. Women who undergo a mastectomy may wish to have breast reconstruction surgery, a common and painless procedure.
- Chemotherapy: To help reduce the risk of recurrence after surgery, a course of chemotherapy may be recommended.
- Hormone Therapy: For women whose cancer cells test positive for estrogen and/or progesterone receptors, hormone therapy can help eliminate cancer cells from the body.
- Immunotherapy: When the cancer cells contain excess amounts of the HER2 protein receptors, immunotherapy with an anti-HER2 drug may be recommended in combination with chemotherapy.