When needed, treatment for stage 0 breast cancer is usually very successful. The five-year survival rate is about 93%. Treatments differ depending on what kind of stage 0 cancer you have.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is one type. In this condition, abnormal cells appear in the ducts of the breast. This type of breast cancer is being seen more often, partly because of increased use of mammogram screenings. Sometimes, these cells become invasive cancer. That's why it's key to get treatment now. Here's a list of the typical treatments:
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Surgery is a standard. For smaller tumors, you might get a lumpectomy, in which only the abnormal cells and some of the breast tissue are removed. Some women choose a mastectomy, in which the entire breast is removed. After a mastectomy, you might choose to have breast reconstruction surgery.
Radiation therapy is standard treatment after a lumpectomy. Radiation therapy attacks any abnormal cells that might have been missed and decreases the risk of another breast cancer.
Hormone therapy with tamoxifen after surgery may also help prevent cancer from developing in the same or opposite breast if the breast cancer is found to be responsive to hormone therapy.
Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is the other type of stage 0 breast cancer. LCIS develops when abnormal cells appear in the lobes of the breast.
With LCIS, there may be no palpable tumor, no consistent changes on mammography, and it often is found when doing a breast biopsy for something else. The risk of developing an invasive cancer in the future is increased in both breasts. Most women don't need treatment right away. It's key to have frequent checkups with your doctor. Here are some treatment options:
Hormone therapy with tamoxifen or raloxifene to lower the risk of developing invasive cancer.
Bilateral mastectomy -- the removal of both breasts -- is another option. Some women choose this approach because they are worried about getting cancer. They might have certain risk factors, like a strong family history of breast cancer. After surgery, you might choose to get breast reconstruction surgery. However, many experts think that a bilateral mastectomy is a more extreme approach than women usually need.
American Cancer Society. National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, Breast Cancer, v.1.2004.
National Cancer Institute: "Breast Cancer PDQ: Treatment, Health Professional Version," "Breast Cancer PDQ: Treatment, Patient Version," "Understanding Breast Cancer: A Guide for Patients," and "What You Need to Know about Breast Cancer."