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Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented At Stage 0 Among At-Risk Individuals?

Breast cancer is a type of cancer in which cells found in the breast grow beyond control. One’s risk for breast cancer can be attributed to a combination of factors that can be within your control or out of your control. With that being said, what are these risk factors, and how can you address them? Keep reading our article down below as we discuss the following:

  • Who Is At Risk Of Breast Cancer?

  • What Does Stage 0 Breast Cancer Mean?

  • Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented At Stage 0?

Who Is At Risk Of Breast Cancer?

Before understanding whether or not breast cancer can be prevented, let’s discuss what its risk factors are and who is at risk.

Breast cancer can be attributed to a number of combined risk factors1. These risk factors can either be changed or not be changed. A few examples of risk factors that can be changed are those down below:

  • Living an inactive lifestyle.

  • Being overweight or obese, especially after menopause.

  • Undergoing certain types of hormone replacement therapy. Undergoing these treatments, especially if involving estrogen and progesterone, during menopause can heighten one’s risk for breast cancer. This is provided that they have been undergoing these therapies for over five years. Studies have also found that some types of oral contraceptives or birth control can contribute to breast cancer risk.

  • Reproductive history, such as having a first child after the age of 30, not breastfeeding, and others.

On the other hand, risk factors for breast cancer that cannot be changed include the following:

  • Older age.

  • Genetic mutations to genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2.

  • Dense breasts.

  • Personal or family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or even non-cancerous breast diseases.

  • Previous history of radiation therapy.

Given these various risk factors, those who 1) have a family history of breast cancer or 2) have mutations or changes in their BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.

What Does Stage 0 Breast Cancer Mean?

There are various stages of breast cancer. Staging is a method of illustrating the extensiveness of breast cancer by looking at factors such as tumor size, whether it has reached the lymph nodes, whether it has spread to further parts of the body, and what its biomarkers are, among other factors.2, 3

There are five main stages of breast cancer3:

  1. Stage 0. In this stage, the breast cancer is non-invasive. The cancer is located within the ducts of the breast tissue and is not spreading to the tissues surrounding the breast.

  2. Stage 1. In this stage, breast cancer becomes invasive, meaning that cancer cells are beginning to attack healthy breast tissue. This stage is divided into two categories:

    1. 1A where the cancer spreads to the fatty breast tissue and the tumor is no more than 2 centimeters and

    2. 1B where small amounts of cancer cells are found in a couple of lymph nodes.

  3. Stage 2. In this stage, the cancer has grown and/or spread. This stage has two categories:

    1. 2A in which the tumor is small and

    2. 2B in which the tumor grows to the size of a walnut or lime.

  4. Stage 3. In this stage, the cancer is considered advanced and more difficult to fight. This stage consists of three categories:

    1. 3A in which the cancer has spread to the 9 lymph nodes that form a chain from your underarm to your collarbone,

    2. 3B in which the cancer has spread into the chest wall or skin in your breast, and

    3. 3C in which the cancer has been detected in more than 10 lymph nodes or above your collarbone.

  5. Stage 4. In this stage, the cancer is “metastatic,” or has spread beyond the original region where it was found. Breast cancer cells may have spread to sites such as the bones, lungs, liver, and brain.

Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented At Stage 0?

Knowing that there can be various for breast cancer can be quite intimidating. However, the great news is that breast cancer can be prevented from the onset: at stage 0. Stage 0 breast cancer can grow very slowly and can potentially never develop into invasive cancer.4 With this, there are multiple ways that you can reduce your risk for breast cancer starting from stage 0, some of which include5:

  • Staying physically active.

  • Maintaining a healthy weight.

  • Limiting alcohol intake.

  • Maintaining a balanced diet.

…among many others.

Luckily, these lifestyle changes are things that we can control in order to live long, healthy lives for both ourselves and our loved ones.

We’re Here To Help!

HelenHealth offers our community members various ways to jumpstart their breast cancer prediction and prevention journey. We have a team of fitness experts, nutritionists, and genetic counselors who can offer you the guidance you need to prevent breast cancer before it becomes invasive. If you would like to learn more about how you can join our community today, don’t hesitate to reach out to me through my email!

Stay Healthy,

Samantha Ackary


Partnerships and Public Relations Head


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