Breast cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer in the world today, affecting approximately one in nine women in their lifetime. Treatment for early stage breast cancer is often successful and survival rates are relatively high.

What is early stage breast cancer?

Early stage breast cancer means breast cancer that has not yet spread beyond the breast or the lymph nodes in the nearest armpit. 

The first symptom of early stage breast cancer is often a painless breast lump. Although the vast majority of breast lumps are not cancerous, it is vital to see a doctor promptly if you discover a lump in your breast. Other symptoms of early stage breast cancer can include:

  • Changes in overall size and shape of the breast.
  • Skin on the breast that looks different.
  • A nipple that becomes inverted when it wasn’t before.
  • A nipple discharge that may be bloodstained.

In early stage breast cancer that involves the lymph nodes, a swelling or lump may be felt in the armpit on the side of the affected breast.

How is early stage breast cancer treated?

By detecting and treating at an early stage, breast cancer can often be cured. Early stage breast cancer is usually treated with surgery, and you might also have chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone or biological treatment, or a combination of these. Treatment of early stage breast cancer is tailored according to:

  • You: general health, age, whether you are pre- or post-menopausal, and your personal preferences about your treatment.
  • Your tumour: the stage/size and grade of the cancer, and whether it contains hormone receptors or HER2 receptors, which determine which treatments it will respond best to.