Friday, October 07, 2011

More facts

About 20% of women diagnosed with Breast Cancer, regardless of initial stage of diagnosis (so whether they were stage I, II, or III from the beginning) will go on to have metastatic breast cancer (which is stage IV). About 6% present with metastatic breast cancer from the initial diagnosis.
What does this mean? That early detection is NOT the cure for breast cancer. That early detection will NOT save all lives. So what do we do with this? Well, we still advocate for early detection because it does help. But we also need to do more. Research more. Study more. We need to learn about metastatic breast cancer if we really want to eliminate breast cancer deaths.

If we only look at early stage breast cancer (stage 1) 18-20% will have a recurrence of breast cancer within 10 years. An in 70% of those, the cancer will have spread to their bones. {Of the remaining 30% I am not sure what is or isn't metastatic breast cancer. It's hard to get concrete numbers on some of this}

Edited to add this:

I found this and it does a beautiful job (I think) of explaining why early detection does not prevent spreading of all breast cancer

"For decades, women have heard that the best hope of curing breast cancer is finding it early. To that end, doctors have taught women about the importance of three breast cancer screening techniques: breast self-exam, clinical breast exam (a breast exam done by a health professional), and mammography. This emphasis on breast cancer screening has perpetuated the belief that all breast cancers can be cured if they are found early. It also leads people to believe that all women who survive breast cancer do so because their cancer was found early.

The latest research, however, indicates that neither of these beliefs appears to be true. It now looks like there are about six different types of breast cancer that vary in how aggressive they are. Some of them are so "good" that they will never metastasize (spread throughout the body). And that means it doesn't matter when you find them. They just don't have the ability to cause someone to die of breast cancer. Others are very "bad" and so aggressive that no matter when you find them—which means even if you find them when they are still very small—they have already begun to wreak havoc. These are the types of cancers that cause women to die of this disease. Still others, probably about 30 percent, have the potential to become "bad" if not stopped early. These are the cancers whose outcomes are affected by breast cancer screening programs and early detection. These are also the cancers mammography is best at finding.

So is the concept of "early detection" a total falsehood? Not really. There are some cancers that we truly can detect early. What is misleading is the idea that every cancer has the potential to be found early by our current techniques. Right now, unfortunately, we are limited by both our techniques and our understanding of breast cancer. Screening is still our best tool for changing the mortality rate of breast cancer. We need to take full advantage of it while working very hard to find something better."

From here


  1. Any cancer, at any stage can metastasize. All 'metastasize' means is 'to spread'. There is no "metastatic" cancer - except that a tumor is the daughter tumor of a primary tumor. The reason to catch breast cancer early is to catch it before it spreads - the longer it's in place, the more the likelihood of spreading. Some cancers spread quicker than others. Some seldom spread at all. All cancers start somewhere, and given time, almost all will spread. Early detection minimizes the chance of spreading.

  2. Actually, most doctors now believe that cancer that spreads works differently than cancer that doesn't (at least in terms of breast cancer - not sure if it applies to other cancers). And that it spreads from the beginning and so early detection is not a way to prevent this. Again, this is all breast cancer specific. And I've read a lot about this.
    Old thinking was you got cancer and then over time it spread and thus the thought that early detection as a way to prevent spreading was born. However, we now know that cancers that will spread, will spread, and finding it early is not a way to prevent it.

  3. The other 30% of metastatic cancer are cancers that have spread to other organs, like liver or brain.
    These are all very interesting statistics, where did you find this information? I'd like to read more about it.

  4. Fantastic post - I'm sharing!

  5. Just letting you know I read your post and appreciate your passing on the information.

  6. Thank you for the information.I was not aware of these facts . I get a mamo every year .Im always touching breasts to feel for anything but like you said nothing matters for some sometimes.
    Debbie kelly


Seeing your comments makes me smile! Thank you so much =)