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General information about breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the Western world (affecting more than one in nine women in France, for example).
Although you might feel perfectly well, one day you could be told that a little lump, which often cannot even be felt, could threaten your life. You will have to deal with so many things: choosing the team who will treat you, telling your family and friends, managing your professional life... and of course, getting the right treatment.
This disease is even more frightening because it is so widespread: everyone knows someone who knows someone who has been affected by it, and everyone's story is different.
Because there is not just one type of cancer, but many different ones, and the treatment that will be offered to you is often complex and multidisciplinary.
Some women come for treatment without asking questions, but many feel the need to find out as much as possible so they can understand the treatment options available to them. These pages are designed to answer those questions.
Treatments are advancing
Five-year survival rates for breast cancers :
- All stages combined : 64 %
- Localised breast cancers : 84 %
- Cancers involving the lymph nodes : 54 %
- Metastatic cancers : 7 %
- All stages combined : 75 %
- Localised breast cancers : 90 %
- Cancers involving the lymph nodes : 69 %
- Metastatic cancers : 10 %
- Cancers tous stades confondus : 85 %
- Cancers localisés au sein : 96,5 %
- Cancers avec atteinte des ganglions lymphatiques : 77 %
- Cancers métastasés : 21,4 %
This classification is established based on the involvement of the lymph nodes and the existence of metastases and does not take into account the histology of cancer, or the particular characteristics of the cancer cells that form the cancer’s 'identity card'
Treatments have evolved
Surgery is less mutilating.
- In 70% of cases we can achieve 'breast-Conserving treatment': Lumpectomy (removal of the tumour), along with radiotherapy and sometimes Chemotherapy. When the lumpectomy is carried out by a specialist surgeon, the normal appearance of the breast is almost always conserved.
- Currently, mastectomy is only required in 30% of cases.
- Breast reconstruction is always possible and these days it is more aesthetically pleasing thanks to the ‘Filling, lipofilling’ technique.
Treatment is increasingly multidisciplinary. Multiplying the ways in which the cancer is treated increases the chances of recovery. Although the essential treatment is still the surgical removal of the tumour, surgery is increasingly combined with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and anti-hormonal treatments.
Treatments are increasingly targeted. They are adapted to each type of cancer, depending on the stage, characteristics and individual parameters of the patient. Protocols are defined at national and international consensus meetings; then systematically discussed again on a case-by-case basis at Multidisciplinary Team Meetings involving the whole team: surgeons, nurses, pathologists, chemotherapists, gynaecologists, radiologists and radiotherapists.