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Six things to know about stage zero breast cancer
Breast Cancer - Erica Scott
Erica Scott, MD

COVINGTON, Ga. - Many people have never heard of stage zero breast cancer, but the American Cancer Society states that more than 63,000 cases will be diagnosed this year. Erica Scott, MD, a general surgeon at Piedmont Newton Hospital, believes it’s important for women to be familiar with stage zero breast cancer and how to treat it.

  • Stage Zero breast cancer, also known as ductal carcinoma in situ, is when abnormal cells are lodged in one or more of the breast ducts but have not spread to other areas of the breast, and therefore cannot spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body in its current form.
  • Over one-third of women diagnosed with stage zero breast cancer will go on to develop invasive breast cancer, which can take many decades to develop.
  • Current treatment options include removal of the breast tissue that involves the cancer and radiation therapy or a mastectomy, which removes the entire breast tissue.
  • Most studies have demonstrated that patients who do not receive radiation therapy after surgery for stage zero breast cancer have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
  • If the cancer is responsive to estrogen, your doctor may prescribe an anti-hormone medication for 5-10 years following surgery.
  • There is a current clinical trial following women with low grade stage zero breast cancer to ascertain whether non-surgical management with active surveillance is safe. However, it will be many years before there are any results or changes in the standard of care.

“As always, women are urged to perform self-exams and report any changes or irregularities to their doctor, but with stage zero there would likely be no palpable lump,” Dr. Scott, who specializes in breast surgery, said. “That’s why it’s important for women to continue to have routine mammograms performed annually.”

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