Surviving Stage 2 Breast Cancer
- Louis-Dreyfus was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2017. She underwent six rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy to treat the disease.
- A stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis means that the tumor is probably bigger than 2cm and/or there are some lymph nodes involved.
- It’s not just the stage that’s going to “drive your cancer,” according to one of our experts. Doctors also need to consider the hormones, biology and genetics involved with each case to determine the best course of treatment.
The Veep actress, 60, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2017.Read More
After undergoing six rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy for treatment, she announced she was cancer-free in October 2018. Since then, she’s been working on a lot of projects and taking in all the beautiful moments of life.
View this post on Instagram
Just this year, she’s celebrated 34 years of marriage with her husband, Brad Hall, joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as comic-book character Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine and, most recently, announced that she’s set to join Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy for an untitled comedy feature that Kenya Barris will direct for Netflix. Louis-Dreyfus, needless to say, seems determined to make the most of every day. And with a track record like hers and a drive to keep succeeding, there’s likely no stopping this inspiring cancer survivor.
What Is Stage 2 Beast Cancer?
To better understand Louis-Dreyfus’ cancer diagnosis, it’s important to talk about what ‘stage’ means for breast cancer patients.
More specifically, Louis-Dreyfus had stage 2 cancer.
“When a woman has Stage 2 breast cancer, it means that the tumor’s probably bigger than 2 cm and/or she has lymph nodes involved,” Dr. Comen explained. “And if she has lymph nodes involved, she probably doesn’t have that many lymph nodes involved. Because if you have more lymph nodes, like 10, 11, 12, then that might be referred to as Stage 3 cancer.”
Treating Stage 2 Breast Cancer
There are many treatment options for people with breast cancer, but treatment depends greatly on the specifics of each case. One defining characteristic of a person’s breast cancer includes their stage.
“Patients come to me all the time asking, ‘What is the stage of my cancer?'” Dr. Comen said. “Stage is kind of an old way of thinking about how we treat breast cancer. But, yet, it is still one of the ways that we put patients into categories to figure out the types of treatments that may be available to them.”
Thanks to advancements in cancer research, today’s treatment options depend on much more than just stage. Doctors also consider the hormones, biology and genetics involved with each case to determine the best course of treatment.
“When it comes to deciding the type of treatment that a woman needs, it’s not just the size of the tumor and how many lymph nodes are involved and the stage,” she explained. “It’s really also the biology. Is it hormone receptor positive? Is this a cancer that we probably need chemotherapy for? Or maybe we don’t need chemotherapy for.”
In other words, it’s not just the stage that’s going to “drive your cancer,” according to Dr. Comen. And figuring out the other factors that will “drive” it is what’s really going to help your oncologist pick the most beneficial treatments for you. Identifying these specifics means looking into whether the cancerous cells have certain receptors. These receptors – the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and the HER2 receptor – can help identify the unique features of the cancer and help personalize treatment.
“These receptors, I like to imagine them like little hands on the outside of the cell, they can grab hold of what we call ligands, and these ligands are essentially the hormones that may be circulating in the bloodstream that can then be pulled into this cancer cell and used as a fertilizer, as growth support for the cells,” Dr. Comen told SurvivorNet.
One example of a type of ligand that can stimulate a cancer cell is the hormone estrogen, hence why an estrogen receptor positive breast cancer will grow when stimulated by estrogen. For these cases, your doctor may offer treatment that specifically targets the estrogen receptor. But for HER2 positive breast cancers, therapies that uniquely target the HER2 receptor may be the most beneficial.