A new study shows that catching breast cancer early is one of the best ways to ensure survival, even with better treatments. In the study, Dutch researchers observed 174,000 breast cancer patients, and saw a vast improvement in breast cancer survival rates between 1999 and 2012. However, the survival rates for women were at their highest when the cancer is caught early.
In addition, the study showed that the size of the tumor also has a direct effect on the patient’s ability to fight through the cancer. Of those women who have been diagnosed in recent years, nearly every patient survived at least 5 years if they caught the tumor before it grew greater than an inch. In fact, the majority of cancer survivors (64%) were diagnosed 5 or more years ago.
While this may sound unsurprising, the research company stresses the importance of early detection in wake of the discovery of advanced cancer care treatments. This includes drugs like Herceptin, which target the abnormalities found in breast tumors, better chemotherapy treatment, and hormonal therapy. In addition, patients are choosing a ‘breast conserving’ surgery, which only removes the tumor and surrounding tissue area.
So how can women check themselves for breast cancer? With monthly self-checks and by getting a mammogram from cancer specialists. Mammograms can find breast cancer in its early stages, especially in women who are older than 50, as breast cancer is uncommon in women under the age of 40. In the United States, the American Cancer Society suggest that women should get yearly mammograms starting when they turn 40. If you believe you may have a tumor, contact cancer specialists to talk about what breast cancer can mean for you, and what kind of treatments are available.