Dr. Harness explains if invasive breast cancers are life-threatening conditions.
Dr. Harness, M.D.:
The answer is yes. Invasive cancers are a potential threat to the patient’s life. Now the question is how fatal, or what are my odds of dying of my breast cancer? It’s really directly related to stage. So that stage 1 has a better survival. You know, roughly 85 percent at least at five years, and around 75 to 80 percent at ten years. But again, those numbers are shifting because the treatments are getting better and more effective.
As we then get into the lymph nodes being positive which is stage 2, the numbers start to drop off some as far as long-term survival. Again, these are historical numbers, but the numbers begin to slip some, maybe five, eight percent or more. As you are getting then to stage 3, which is a larger breast cancer, the numbers begin to slip further, and then stage 4 which means the cancer has gone elsewhere in the body.
Stage 4 today, and I want to really emphasize this, today is not curable, but we’ve got patients with stage 4 disease living for years because our treatments are getting better, and we are able to keep them alive for years, not just days and weeks. And our hope is obviously to be able to convert the stage 4 breast cancer patient with, let’s say spread to the bone as an example, into somebody who not only has a long life but hopefully some day actually be cured of their stage 4 disease.
About Dr. Harness, M.D.:
Dr. Jay Harness, M.D., is the Director at St. Joseph Hospital Comprehensive Breast Center. Practicing medicine for 35 years, Dr. Harness specializes in general surgery and medical oncology. Graduating medical school from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, he conducting his internship and residency at the University of Michigan Medical Center. Recognized nationally and internationally for his work in breast and endocrine surgery, Dr. Harness is the immediate past-President of The American Society of Breast Surgeons and is President-elect of Breast Surgery International. Dr. Harness can assist patients in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.