Test your knowledge: the stages of breast cancer
Most people are familiar with the concept that cancers are diagnosed in “stages.” But do you know what this really means? In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, test your knowledge with these three true or false statements. 1. TRUE OR FALSE: THERE ARE FOUR STAGES OF BREAST CANCER False. The staging system for breast FDQFHUKDV¿YHVWDJHV]HURWRIRXU Stage zero is assigned to ductal car- cinoma in situ (DCIS) breast can- cer, which means the cancer cells DUHFRQ¿QHG WRDGXFWRU OREXOH Stage four is assigned to metasta-
tic breast cancer, which means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. In general, the higher the stage, the more the cancer has spread through the breasts and to nearby organs. 2. TRUE OR FALSE: THE STAGE CHANGES AS THE CANCER EVOLVES False. A stage describes the location and amount of cancer present in the body when LW¶V¿UVWGLDJQRVHG6LQFHWKHVWDJHLVEDVHG on the initial diagnosis, it doesn’t change even if the cancer grows, spreads or comes back following remission. For example, a stage two breast cancer that eventually spreads to the liver will be referred to as me-
tastatic, but it remains a stage two cancer. 3. TRUE OR FALSE: THE STAGING SYSTEM HELPS DETERMINE A PROGNOSIS True. Doctors use the stage of cancer to predict the course of the disease and the pa- tient’s likelihood of recovery. This is possible because cancers that appear in the same part of the body with the same stage tend to have a similar prognosis. The stage is also used to develop a treatment plan and assign patients to appropriate clinical trials if they wish to participate.
BREAST CANCER How to recognize and treat lymphedema
/\PSKLVDFOHDUÀXLGWKDWFRQWDLQVDQWLERGLHVDQG ÀRZVWKURXJKWKHO\PSKDWLFV\VWHPRIWKHERG\,I WKLV ÀXLG LV XQDEOH WR SURSHUO\ FLUFXODWH LW FDQ build up in the soft tissue of a limb and cause swel- ling. This condition, called lymphedema, is common in breast cancer patients whose lymph nodes have been damaged or removed during their treatment. SYMPTOMS There are numerous signs that might indicate the presence of lymphedema, including: • Trouble moving and bending a joint • Swelling of the arm or leg DQGVRPHWLPHV¿QJHUVRUWRHV • Hardening or thickening of the skin • Persistent ache, pain or burning sensation in the limb • Tight feeling in the skin of the affected area These symptoms can vary and depend on the seve- rity of the condition.
TREATMENT Daily skin care is crucial to prevent and manage lymphedema. Clean, hydrated skin helps reduce the risk of infection which can cause or exacerbate this condition. Take precautions and avoid activities that can lead to you getting cut, scratched or burnt. You should also wear sunscreen and refrain from using ice packs, since exposure to extreme hot or cold temperatures can aggravate symptoms. Other types of prevention and treatment include ma- nual lymph drainage, complex decongestive the- rapy and wearing compression garments. If left untreated, lymphedema can lead to severe complications such as a bacterial skin infection or an infection of the lymph vessels. Speak with your health-care team if you notice signs of lymphedema.
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