Is Breast Cancer Highly Curable?

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Written by Consensus
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Is breast cancer highly curable?

Check out this answer from Consensus:

Breast cancer is highly curable in its early stages, with a significant proportion of patients achieving long-term survival and cure. Advanced breast cancer remains challenging to cure, but targeted therapies and aggressive treatment approaches have improved outcomes for certain subgroups. Continued research and equal access to advanced treatments are essential to further improve the curability of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most frequent malignancy in women worldwide. The curability of breast cancer varies significantly depending on the stage at diagnosis and the molecular characteristics of the tumor. This article explores the curability of breast cancer, examining the factors that influence outcomes and the advancements in treatment that have improved survival rates.

Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Early-stage breast cancer, which includes stages I and II, is highly curable. Approximately 70-80% of patients with early-stage, non-metastatic breast cancer can be cured with current treatment modalities. These treatments typically involve a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and systemic therapies such as chemotherapy, endocrine therapy, and targeted therapies.

Treatment Modalities

  • Surgery and Radiation Therapy: These are the primary locoregional treatments for early-stage breast cancer. They aim to remove the tumor and any affected surrounding tissue1.
  • Systemic Therapies: These include endocrine therapy for hormone receptor-positive disease, chemotherapy, and anti-HER2 therapy for HER2-positive disease. These therapies help to eliminate any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence .

Advanced Breast Cancer

Advanced breast cancer, particularly stage IV with distant organ metastases, is generally considered incurable with current therapies. However, there are exceptions, especially with the advent of targeted therapies.

HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

HER2-positive breast cancer has seen significant improvements in outcomes due to the incorporation of anti-HER2 agents. Some studies suggest that stage IV HER2-positive breast cancer can be potentially curable with prolonged and aggressive treatment. For instance, patients who achieve a complete clinical response (cCR) and maintain it for several years may discontinue anti-HER2 therapy and remain disease-free.

Metastatic Breast Cancer

While metastatic breast cancer is not typically curable, a small percentage of patients achieve long-term survival. Factors that contribute to better outcomes include younger age, good performance status, and a low systemic tumor load. An aggressive multidisciplinary approach combining local and systemic treatments can result in prolonged disease control for certain patients.

Long-Term Survival and Cure Rates

Long-term follow-up studies have provided insights into the survival and cure rates of breast cancer patients. For example, a study of 14,731 women with breast cancer in Norway estimated a cured fraction of 35% for the entire cohort, with higher cure rates in younger patients and those with early-stage disease. Another study from Addenbrooke’s Hospital suggested a cure rate of about 18% for all cases and 30% for stages I and II combined.

 

 

Is breast cancer highly curable?

Cornelia  Baines has answered Uncertain

An expert from University of Toronto in Epidemiology, Oncology, Global Health

When technically good mammography is available and affordable, it is reasonable but not essential that women 50-59 accept it. Benefit for women age 40-49 has not been established credibly and may actually do more harm than good due to overdiagnosis.

In low income countries mammography should not be offered. 

I believe it would be useful however if care for breast cancer is readily available in LICs, to consider visual examinations of breast. Should any asymmetry of contour or tissue thickness be seen, it would be useful to get professional assessment if available. Asymmetry is key in interpreting mammograms and it is key in clinical exam. We have experience of the very slight unilateral flattening of breast contour indicating the presence of malignancy. This principle applies equally to women in developed countries but they tend to have a predilection for technology.

 

Is breast cancer highly curable?

Amy Yee has answered Uncertain

An expert from Tufts University in Women’s Health, Cancer

Depends on the breast cancer type. To me, “curable” means no recurrence or metastases. Types like DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) have a low chance of recurrence and metastases. On the other spectrum, TNBC (triple negative breast cancer have higher chances of recurrence and deadly metastases. We have many tools for treating breast cancer. The intense science into its etiology and treatment are inspiring new treatments. We hope to eradicate breast cancer so the affected individuals succumb to old age, not breast cancer.

 

Is breast cancer highly curable?

Cara A Davidson has answered Likely

An expert from Western University in Health

Many cases of breast cancer are treatable, particularly when discovered in the early stages.

 

Is breast cancer highly curable?

laszlo tabar has answered Uncertain

An expert from Uppsala University in Radiology

Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease consisting of many subtypes. To which extent modern medicine can control this complex disease depends on the site of origin of breast cancer/ i.e. which part of the fibroglandular tissue the tumor originates from.

Early detection and treatment in the early, non-palpable phase has already resulted in 50% decrease in breast cancer death among those women who attend screening at regular intervals, see the attached, recent publication based on more than half a million Swedish women aged 40-69 yrs.

 

Is breast cancer highly curable?

Lital Keinan Boker has answered Likely

An expert from Haifa University in Epidemiology

In my opinion, breast cancer is a curable disease in most cases but not all.

Technology development and better early detection resulted in two main trends – higher incidence on one hand, but better survival on the other. Part of it is overdetection, of course, which contributes to both trends. However, the high awareness and better treatment do make breast cancer in most cases a curable disease (though it should be kept in mind that it may return at some point, which puts these women into a more chronic than cured position). 

 

Is breast cancer highly curable?

David H Gorski has answered Likely

An expert from Science Based Medicine in Medicine

This is actually a more complicated question that it seems. For instance, early stage breast cancer is highly treatable for long term survival (we don’t like to use the word “curable”), while later stages are less so and metastatic breast cancer to other organs is not.

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