Before trying to make sense of breast cancer prognosis, it's important to know the type of breast cancer you're dealing with. Then, visit the appropriate pages below to learn more about the specific type of breast cancer.
Types of Breast Cancer: FAQ guides written by a breast cancer survivor and reviewed by breast cancer doctors.
- Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)
- Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS)
- Invasive/Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)
- Invasive/Infiltrating Lobular Cancer (ILC)
- Less Common Breast Cancers: Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) and Paget's Disease
Breast Cancer Treatment Options
With many different types of breast cancer come a variety of treatment options. The most common treatments include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery - or a combination of any of them. Your oncologist will determine the type, duration and amount of treatment. He or she will consider several factors such as general physical condition, type of breast cancer, historical factors in treating the specific type of cancer, and possibly clinical trial drugs.
For more information on breast cancer treatment options, see: Breast Cancer Treatment
Understanding Breast Cancer Prognosis: Our Story
After Barb's biopsy came back positive for inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), the next step was to see an oncologist. Our doctor conducted a thorough physical exam and explained the course of action he felt would be best for Barb. We asked about the chances of recovery and the possibility of recurrence.
Because Barb had IBC, we were told that the chances of recurrence after treatment were about 60 percent. However, if she made it past five years, her chances of long-term survival increased to about 80 percent. This was not pleasant news, but at least our doctor was honest with us and provided some hope for a cure.
Our doctor went on to explain that he wanted Barb to start with a bone scan and a CAT scan to establish a baseline of her physical condition. He also wanted her to start chemotherapy immediately. Our doctor felt that the tumor was too large for mastectomy to be successful, and that the chances of it spreading to other parts of Barb's body were high.
The treatment schedule he prescribed was four months of chemotherapy to shrink and contain the mass in her breast, followed by a modified radical mastectomy. After the operation, Barb would receive additional chemotherapy (adjunct treatment) to attempt to kill any remaining cancer cells that might be lingering in her system.
After this initial discussion with our doctor, he left the exam room, and Barb got dressed. I could tell she was very upset, but she was hanging in there just the same. I tried to console her and reassure her that our commitment together to fight the cancer with all our strength would get us through this very difficult period. She acknowledged my support.
We then met with our doctor's nurse who briefed us on what to expect from the chemotherapy. The nurse was gentle but frank with both of us. She gave us several brochures and pamphlets describing the effects of chemotherapy.