You or someone close to you could be diagnosed with breast cancer. Stage 2 breast cancer means that the cancer is still contained in the breast. It might have extended in a minor way to the few nearby lymph nodes. Stage extent of breast cancer is a key factor in making decisions about treatment. It also determines whether stage 2 breast cancer is curable.
With that in mind, is stage 2 breast cancer considered early? Most people with stage 2 breast cancer are treated with Breast Conserving Surgery that is often followed by radiation therapy. They go ahead to fully recover and lead healthy lives. Stage 2 breast cancer would thus be considered early since it is not too advanced and responds to treatment.
What Causes Breast Cancer?
Medical professionals generally attribute breast cancer to genetic factors and your lifestyle. In some cases, breast cancer could arise from exposure to harmful radiation. Breast cancer is best diagnosed early.
The symptoms of stage 2 breast cancer are difficult to miss. They include a lump in your breast, having an itch in your breast, and a bloody discharge from your nipple. You will also notice your lymph nodes in the armpit or neck are swollen. A sore nipple or inverted nipple should alert you to the possibility of having stage 2 aggressive breast cancer.
A general observable change in the shape and size of your nipple or breast is an indicator of breast cancer in some cases. If it is accompanied by other symptoms or dimpling of your breast’s skin with an orange peel texture developing, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Is Stage 2 Breast Cancer Curable?
Stage 2 breast cancer is curable with the right treatment and procedures. Once you are diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, your doctor will guide you in the treatment process. Stage 2 breast cancers are categorized as either Stage 2A Cancer or Stage 2B Cancer. Treatment varies depending on how advanced your breast cancer is.
- Stage 2A Breast Cancer means that a tumour is smaller than 2 centimetres. The cancer cells in this are found in less than 3 lymph nodes. These lymph nodes could be in your breastbone or in the armpit.
- Stage 2B Breast Cancer means that a tumour is bigger than 2 centimetres but less than 5 centimetres. In this, there are more areas beyond the breastbone and armpit lymph nodes where cancer cells are found.
Time for Treatment and Prognosis
If you would like to know how long does it take to cure stage 2 breast cancer, your best chance is if you get an early diagnosis. Even then, you will only get a rough time estimate. There is no time-limit on how long stage 2 breast cancer treatment should take. Stage 2 breast cancer survival rate is relatively low due to late diagnosis. Timely and accurate treatment does a lot to lower stage 2 breast cancer recurrence rates.
Ask your doctor or healthcare provider for your stage 2 breast cancer prognosis. They are well informed and understand the various factors involved. Having seen the results any tests they asked you to undergo, the medical care provider is very well placed to give you a detailed prognosis. The prognosis should include timelines and outcomes of any treatment you will be receiving.
Stage 2 Breast Cancer Treatment
The mode of treatment for stage 2 breast cancer is aggressive and is determined by the stage extent of cancer. The treatment mode is also determined by whether the cancer cells contain hormone receptors, the amounts of HER2 proteins in the cells, the growth rate of cancer and the overall health of the victim. Treatment for stage 2 aggressive breast cancer is usually Breast Conserving Surgery also known as a Partial Mastectomy, Radiation Therapy and Drug Therapy.
The Cancer cells are usually categorized according to their extent-stages such as the T – Tumour, N-Node and M-Metastasis. In the TNM staging system
- T indicates and describes the size of a tumour
- N describes the presence of the cancer cells in the lymph nodes
- M tells your medical care provider if the cancer cells can spread to other body parts.
Stage 2A breast cancers are categorized as T0N1M0, T1N1M0 or T2N0M0 and stage 2B breast cancer is categorized as T2N1M0 or T3N0M0.
1. Breast Conserving Surgery
Stage 2 breast cancers are usually treated with “Breast-Conserving” surgery or p=Partial Mastectomy and as well known as Lumpectomy. The nearby lymph nodes are checked using either test known as Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB) or the Axillary Lymph Nodes Dissection (ALND).
If the cancer cells are in a few lymph nodes, it is not necessary to have the rest of your lymph nodes removed. Your surgeon might decide to remove just the cancerous part with a border of average breast tissue. This process is called Mastectomy.
Radiotherapy treatment is a treatment that involves the use of high energy rays. After mastectomy then you are subjected to several weeks of radiotherapy to the rest part of the breast. Patients with the mastectomy are then treated with the radiotherapy if the cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes. Radiotherapy treatment is usually done to the lymph nodes in the armpits or breastbone.
In case you need Chemotherapy or Hormone Therapy after mastectomy, radiotherapy treatment is delayed until chemotherapy is done. Breast reconstruction is normally done after mastectomy. If your stage 2 breast cancer requires both chemotherapy and radiotherapy, you will have breast reconstruction after the radiotherapy treatment is completed.
The stage 2 breast cancer chemotherapy can be done both prior and after mastectomy surgery. The Chemotherapy treatment involves the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to obliterate the cancer cells. This treatment works if the cancer cells have ER2 & PR2 protein receptors.
Popular drugs used in chemotherapy are Trastuzumab and Herceptin. Chemotherapy is done after the surgery if your cancer had features such as the cancer was large, had spread in the lymph nodes and whether you don’t have hormone receptors. The chemotherapy is done in a period of not less than twelve months.
4. Hormone Therapy Treatment
Hormone therapy treatment is a form of a systematic therapy that is done to contain the spread of cancer cells in the other parts of your body. It is usually done before and after the mastectomy surgery to contain the spread of cancer cells. It acts as Neo-adjuvant therapy if done before the surgery and acts as Adjuvant therapy if done after mastectomy.
This treatment stops the ER2 & PR2 to attach to the receptors. These receptors help the cancerous cell access the proteins that help them grow. Most types of hormone therapy treatment concentrate on suppressing or stopping estrogen protein from acting on the cancer cells. Hormone therapy treatment takes place for an average of five years.