ZocdocAnswersWhen is it too late to treat breast cancer?

Question

When is it too late to treat breast cancer?

I hadn't been checked in eyars and yesterday they found a lump. I am 49. Will they have to remove my breast? What do the different stages mean?

Answer

A diagnosis of breast cancer is both frightening and unsettling. In particular, it can be very difficult to wait until all of the information about your diagnosis is available. You should remember that you are not alone in dealing with this illness and you should raise any and all of your questions and concerns with your oncologist, as he or she will be the physician seeing you through your diagnosis and disease management. You should also know that there has been great progress made in treating breast cancer over the last decades. There are many options for treatment at all stages of the disease. The first thing to know is exactly what time of tumor you have, as this will help direct further treatment. You will almost certainly need surgery, but whether this is a lumpectomy (where the surgeon removes the lump but not the breast) or a mastectomy (removal of the whole breast) depends on several factors, including how large the lump is and how much breast tissue you have. It is very possible that you may not need your entire breast removed, and even if you do, there are many reconstruction options that your surgical oncologist can discuss with you. Breast cancer staging reflects the overall spread of the disease and is also used to help direct the need for further radiation treatment or chemotherapy after surgery. Again, please speak to your oncologist for more information.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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