If your biopsy does find breast cancer, the information learned from the analysis of the cells or tissue is important to the factors related to your diagnosis. Sometimes more tissue is needed to properly analyze the breast cancer, which may be removed during surgery.
The results of the cell or tissue analysis help determine your prognosis – the expected or probable outcome or course of a disease – and guide your treatment plan.
The most important factor related to survival is the presence or absence of metastasis. Metastasis is the spread of cancer beyond the breast to other organs in the body (most often the bones, lung, liver, or brain). Metastatic cancer is also referred to as Stage IV breast cancer.
Factors That Affect Prognosis (non-metastatic)
Factors that affect prognosis and treatment for early and locally advanced breast cancer (Stages 0 – III) are considered in combination rather than alone. These include:
- Lymph node status
- Tumor size
- Tumor grade
- Type of tumor
- Hormone receptor status
- HER2 status
- Proliferation rate
- Oncotype DX
Which factors best determine prognosis and predict response to treatment is under constant study. A factor only becomes a part of standard practice after a great deal of research has shown that it’s accurate and reliable.
Factors That Affect Staging
The three factors used to classify breast cancer stage are:
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is considered stage 0 or non-invasive breast cancer and has the best chance for survival.
There are four main stages of breast cancer (stages I-IV). The lower the breast cancer stage, the better the prognosis tends to be.