According to a recent research, in the United States breast cancer is the second most common cancer after skin cancer occurring in women. Although women are more prone to this kind of cancer, it can be diagnosed in men as well. Thanks to the ever increasing awareness and funding, the breast cancer research is touching new heights in diagnosis and treatments. The severity of the breast cancer determines its stage and proper treatment options. Among all stages, what do you know about stage 3 breast cancer?
What Happens During Stage 3 Breast Cancer?
This is an advanced form of invasive breast cancer and cancer cells may not extend to other parts of the body, but can definitely spread to the underarm lymph nodes. It can further be divided into 3 subcategories as mentioned below:
1. Stage 3A Breast Cancer
- A tumour may or may not be seen through naked eyes. The cancer can be present in 4-9 lymph glands near the breastbone or under the arm.
- Otherwise, a tumour may be bigger than 5cm and minute clusters of breast cancer cells can be found in the lymph nodes.
- Alternatively, a tumour of over 5cm in size spreads into the 3 or more lymph nodes close to the breastbone or armpit.
2. Stage 3B Breast Cancer
The cancer has extended up to 9 or more lymph nodes of the armpit or has spread to the lymph glands near the breastbone. In this case, the tumour has made its way to the chest wall or the skin of the breast, causing swelling or skin ulcer. One may want to keep in mind that the cancer stretching towards the skin could also possibly be inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).
3. Stage 3C Breast Cancer
Doctors divide stage 3C breast cancer into 2 categories: the operable and the inoperable. In this case, tumour can be in any size or there may be no tumour at all. However, this stage 3 breast cancer has spread throughout the breast skin and to the chest wall, causing swelling or an ulcer. It can also metastasize to up to 10 lymph nodes in the armpit, to lymph nodes below or above your collar bone, or to lymph nodes near the breastbone or in the armpit.
Know how to recognise a breast cancer:
How to Treat Stage 3 Breast Cancer
People suffering from this type of cancer often become depressed because the survival rate is only 72% but that doesn’t mean the battle is over. There are thousands of reliable treatments widely acclaimed by the doctors and patients alike which can be tried in order to fight with the disease. A few such therapies and remedies are mentioned below:
Chemotherapy can be done in several different ways relying on the type of treatment you are undergoing. Eating pills or liquids is one way and another more common way is to inject the drug directly to the veins.
Chemotherapy shrinks the tumour to a considerable size to make it easier to remove during surgery. Also, chemotherapy is often performed after surgery so as to destroy the cancer cells left behind even after the surgery.
Surgery for stage 3 breast cancer can be of two types.
- Lumpectomy is a type of surgery where the doctor removes some of the surrounding tissues of the breast along with the tumour.
- Mastectomy requires the surgeon to remove the whole of the breast along with the lymph nodes. It’s up to you to decide if you opt for a surgery to reconstruct your breast after mastectomy.
3. Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy destroys the cancer cells that might have been left in the body even after the therapy. Often suggested right after the surgery, it makes sure to finish off even if any of the cancer cells have been overlooked by the doctors.
4. Hormone Therapy
There is a kind of cancer called hormone receptor positive cancer which means that the particular type of cancer requires hormones to mature. Hormone therapy blocks any kind of hormone source from reaching the tumour.
Various kinds of drugs can be helpful in that. Also, women who have yet not achieved menopause may choose to remove their ovaries. Alternatively, doctor can prescribe drugs could stop ovaries from ejecting hormones too.
5. Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy provides the patient with prescribed medicines like ado-trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla), lapatinib (Tykerb), pertuzumab (Perjeta), or trastuzumab (Herceptin), which are effective in removing the HER2. It is noted that almost 25% of women with stage 3 breast cancer have this specific kind of protein in excess that is needed by the cancer to grow. By the shortage of supply, the tumour declines and ultimately shrinks.
How to Cope With Breast Cancer Emotionally
When a person is diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, many fears and questions arise in her/his mind. Am I going to survive? How am I going to deal with this? The uncertainty of future pressed down on you like never before but as they say, happiness can be found in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the lights. There are suggestions for you:
- Communicate with other survivors: It is a rejuvenating experience to hear from people what they have gone through. The activity encourages you to know that there are other people out there who have suffered like you and came through with flying colours.
- Share with your family: Don’t shut your family out during the hard times. Your family and friends are the only ones that have the capability to understand you. Bestow your fears and worries upon them and they will shower you with hopes.
- Be positive. The best way to cope with cancer is a positive attitude. Try to maintain as many optimistic thoughts as you can muster and never lose hope.