How Long After Diagnosis of Breast Cancer is Surgery (And Why)?

Exact Answer: As soon as possible

Breast cancer is known to be one of the most notorious forms of cancer. Once the cancerous cells begin growing, it spreads quite swiftly and rapidly. Breast cancer can be eradicated successfully when it is diagnosed at an early stage. Frequent screening can help detect it at a nascent stage.

Although there are several treatment options presented to the patient, the best course of treatment will be selected by the medical team in charge of the patient’s care after the assessment of a number of other related factors. However, surgery remains one of the main avenues for treating breast cancer once a patient has been diagnosed with the ailment.

How Long After Diagnosis of Breast Cancer is Surgery?

The type of treatment considered most conducive for a breast cancer patient after her initial diagnosis will depend on several parameters. These include the stage of the cancerous growth, how much it has already spread, the overall health of the individual, as well as the specificity of the cancerous cells in question.

Doctors usually opt for surgery followed by chemo and radiation therapy to successfully treat breast cancer patients. Surgery is presented more as a necessary route than an option to such patients fairly early in the treatment process.

Research suggests that most breast cancer patients opt for surgery within 35 days of their diagnosis. The type of surgery that will be done on the patient will also be contingent on the range to which the cancerous cells have already spread. Patients may also have to undergo multiple surgeries in some cases.

If the breast cancer is in the first, second, and third stages, surgery is conducted within a month or two of the diagnosis. It is believed that the longer one waits to opt for surgery, the higher the chances of this cancer spreading to the other regions of the body. Thus, soon after diagnosis patients are encouraged to get the surgery done.

Moreover, there have been studies that show a positive correlation between shorter time frames of diagnosis and surgery leading to better chances of survival. However, when a woman is diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, surgery is usually not an option. This is the last or fourth stage of the disease where it can only be treated with chemo and radiation.

In Summary:

Stage of the Breast CancerTime Frame For The Surgery
Stage 1, 2, and 3Within 35 days of a confirmed diagnosis
Stage 4Treated with chemo

Why Is Surgery So Long After Diagnosis of Breast Cancer?

Surgery is considered to be an essential part of the treatment plan to battle breast cancer. It is almost impossible to defeat the disease without surgery. Very few patients who have been diagnosed at an extremely nascent stage or when they displayed pre-cancer cells have eradicated the disease with simply hormone therapy.

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The rapidly spreading nature of the cancer is responsible for the need to promptly respond to the disease. Cutting out the cancerous cells is needed as quickly as possible in order to help stop the disease from affecting the lymph nodes of the body.

Some time may be given to a patient in the first stage. Doctors may treat hormonal therapy to kill cancer cells. However, in most cases, surgery becomes a requisite within a month’s time. On the other hand, when a woman is diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, surgery usually is of no avail because the cancer is already metastatic. This implies that it has already spread to the other parts of the body. In such cases, palliative medications can help manage the disease.

The kind of surgery to be performed on a cancer patient again depends on the stage of the breast cancer as well as the goal of the surgery. Complete mastectomies imply the removal of the whole breast so that no cancerous cell is left behind from the breast tissue. While women can also opt for breast-conserving surgery where only the cancerous lump is removed. This is followed by radiation therapy to kill any possible remnants of the cancerous growth in the adjacent cells.  

The key remains regular screening and early diagnosis. If the breasts are regularly screened, any pre-cancer cell growth will be identified and eradicated at the earliest, thus, invalidating the need for surgery.

Conclusion

Successfully beating breast cancer is hinged on the possibility of eradicating the disease early. When the cancer is identified and diagnosed at an early stage, it is possible to recover and get back to a normal life after battling it.

Usually, doctors opt for surgery sooner than later in case of breast cancers. Physicians will present the surgery option quite early during the process of treating a breast cancer patient. The best time for surgery will be determined by the doctor depending on the stage of the breast cancer as well as its specific cell typology. In most cases, surgery happens within the first month or two of receiving a confirmed diagnosis.

References

  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/184861
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1524-4741.2003.09504.x

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