Stage 2 Breast Cancer
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Stage 2 indicates a slightly more advanced form of breast cancer. At this stage, the cancer cells have spread beyond the original location and into the surrounding breast tissue, and the tumor is larger than in stage 1 disease. However, stage 2 means the cancer has not spread to a distant part of the body.
The eight-year survival rate for stage 2 breast cancer is approximately 70%, which means that most women will live for at least eight years after being diagnosed. Most women diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer usually live long and healthy lives.
At stage 2, a tumor may be detected during a breast self-exam as a hard lump within the breast. 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 2 Breast Cancer
Stage 2 is divided into two categories:
At Stage 2A, one of the following is true:
- There is no tumor within the breast but cancer has spread to the axillary (underarm) lymph nodes, or
- The tumor in the breast is 2 cm or smaller and cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes, or
- The tumor in the breast measures 2–5 cm and cancer has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes
At Stage 2B, one of the following is true:
- The tumor measures 2–5 cm and cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes, or
- The tumor is larger than 5 cm but cancer has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes
The survival rate for stage 2A breast cancer may be slightly higher than for stage 2B. However, all women with stage 2 breast cancer are considered to have a good prognosis.
At stage 2, TNM designations help describe the extent of the disease. Most commonly, stage 2 breast cancer is described as:
- T: T1, T2, T3 or T4, depending on the size and/or extent of the primary tumor.
- N1: Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
- M0: The disease has not spread to other sites in the body
Stage 2 Breast Cancer Treatment Options
Women who are diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer have several treatment options, including:
- Surgery: A mastectomy (complete removal of the breast) may be appropriate, or some women may choose a lumpectomy (partial removal of the breast). In addition, the axillary lymph nodes may be removed.
- Radiation: Radiation after surgery may be recommended to help ensure that any remaining cancer cells are eliminated
- Chemotherapy: To help reduce the risk of recurrence after surgery, a course of chemotherapy is commonly recommended for women with stage 2 breast cancer.
- Hormone Therapy: For women or men 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.
- Additional care: Many drugs are available to help ease pain and the side effects of stage 2 breast cancer treatment. Your doctor can discuss treatments for nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and infections.