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How long can you live with breast cancer without treatment?

01 Oct, 2022

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Breast Cancer: Overview

Nearly 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the year 2022 and 658,000 lost their battle with it. Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women and is marked by the excessive growth and development of abnormal cells in different areas of the breast. The most common type of breast cancer is the one that originates from the ducts, accounting for 85 percent of the cases. This is followed by lobular cancer, with a contribution of 15 percent.

There is a common misconception that breast cancer only affects women, however, the reality is that men can develop breast cancer too. The risks are slightly elevated in men who are above 60 years of age.

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Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Some of the most common symptoms associated with breast cancer include:

  • An abnormal lump or mass in the breast that can be felt on touch
  • Sudden change in the appearance of the breast, such as change of shape or size
  • Dimpling of skin over the breast
  • Inverted nipple
  • Crusting, scaling, or flaking of skin surrounding the nipple
  • Unexplained redness on the breasts

Stages of breast cancer

Just like more other malignancies, breast cancer also progresses through 5 different stages:

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  • Stage 0 is the stage in which the cancer cells have just started to develop. This means that the cancer is in situ, i.e. in its original place.
  • Stage 1 is the stage in which cancer becomes invasive and spreads to the deeper cells and tissues. It is further classified as Stage 1A and Stage 1B.
  • Stage 2 is the stage when cancer has spread to the nearby nodes. It is classified as Stage 2A and Stage 2B.
  • Stage 3 is the stage when cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes. It is further classified as Stage 3A, Stage 3B, and Stage 3C.
  • Stage 4 is the final stage of cancer, in which the malignant cells have metastasized to different areas of the body.

How long can you live with metastatic breast cancer without treatment?

Metastatic cancer is another term used for Stage 4 breast cancer, which is marked by the spread of the malignancy to other sites including the bones, lungs, liver, and brain. This happens when the cancer cells break free from the cancerous mass and enter the bloodstream, from where they spread to different areas of the body, resulting in the development of new cells.

The lifespan of the patient with Stage 4 breast cancer is about, however, lack of treatment will worsen the prognosis and lower the life expectancy of the patient. So, if you are wondering how long can you live with stage 4 breast cancer without treatment, it is pertinent to note that the survival rate is very low as treatment not only helps to manage the symptoms but also adds some more time to the patient’s life.

How long can you live with breast cancer without treatment?

If left untreated, breast cancer can progress at a much faster pace, giving rise to fatal complications. 250 breast cancer patients were observed in a study and it was found that the survival time was 2.7 years. The 5 and 10-year survival rates of patients, without any treatment, were found to be 18.8 and 3.6 percent respectively.

Can breast cancer be cured if it has spread?

No, it is not possible to cure metastatic breast cancer, i.e. cancer that has spread. Treatment majorly focuses on slowing down the progression of cancer and managing the symptoms, with the aim of adding more years to the patient’s life.

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