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Importance of Early Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Self
Diagnosis

Tests and procedures used to diagnose breast cancer include:

Breast exam. Your doctor will check both of your breasts and lymph nodes in your armpit, feeling for any lumps or other abnormalities.

Mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Mammograms are commonly used to screen for breast cancer.

Breast ultrasound. Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of structures deep within the body.

Biopsy. Removing a sample of breast cells for testing

Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI machine uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of the interior of your breast.

Importance of Early Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Importance of Early
Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Understanding Early
Breast Cancer

Early breast cancer (eBC) refers to cancer that is confined to the breast i.e. it has not ‘metastasised’ or spread to other parts of the body.

The aim of treating eBC is to prevent the disease from returning or reaching an advanced and incurable stage.

Approximately 1.67 million new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed annually worldwide. The majority of these cases are identified in the early stages of the disease.

Patients with eBC can be given therapies before and/or after surgery to reduce the size of the tumour and to prevent the cancer from returning.

Neoadjuvant

Treatment given before surgery may be referred to as ‘neoadjuvant’ therapy. This treatment aims to reduce the size of the tumour.

Surgery
Adjuvant

Treatment after surgery is referred to as ‘adjuvant’ therapy. This treatment aims to kill any any remaining cancer cells and prevent the cancer from returning.

When breast cancer is diagnosed and treated in the early setting it is potentially curable.

The Different Stages of
Breast Cancer

Each year more than 1.6 million are diagnosed with breast cancer
globally and over 500,000 will die from the disease.


Early stage

Early
stage (I)

The tumour is no longer than two cm, and has not spread to the lymph nodes.

Locally advanced

Locally
advanced (II & III)

The tumour is between two and five cm in size and may have spread to the lymph nodes under the arm of surrounding breast tissue.

Advanced or metastatic

Advanced or
metastatic (IV)

Tumour(s) have spread to other organs in the body e.g. lungs, liver or bone. This is sometimes referred to as advanced or metastatic cancer.

References

  1. Breast cancer.org [online]. Available from: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/diagnosis/staging.jsp [Accessed May 2015].
  2. World Health Organization [online]. Available from: http://publications.cancerresearchuk.org/downloads/product/CS_REPORT_WORLD.pdf [Accessed May 2015].
  3. Howlader N, et al. [online]. Available from: http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2011/ [Accessed May 2015].
  4. Cardoso F, et al. Ann Oncol 2012;23 Suppl 7:vii11-9.
  5. Gianni L, et al. Lancet Oncol 2011;12:236-244.
  6. Perez E, et al. J Clin Oncol 2011;29,25:3366-73.
  7. Piccart-Gebhart M, et al. N. Engl. J. Med 2005;353:1659-72.
  8. Romond E, et al. N. Engl. J. Med 2005;353,16:1673-84.
  9. Slamon D, et al. N. Engl. J. Med 2011;365,14:1273-1283.
  10. Smith I, et al. Lancet 2007;369:29–36.
  11. Early Breast Cancer Trialists' Collaborative Group. Lancet 2005;365(9472):1687-717.
  12. Gianni L, et al. Lancet Oncol 2014;15,6:640-7.
  13. Stages of breast cancer, avalible from http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/diagnosis/staging.jsp [accessed May 2015]