New findings from Fox Chase Cancer Center paint a relatively optimistic picture of women’s chances of surviving a subset of breast cancers that have spread to the chest wall or skin, but not beyond.

Tumors that grow into the skin, regardless of size and whether they have involvedlymph nodes, are automatically classified as stage III – and called “locally advanced” tumors, suggesting that they are a relatively serious form of cancer, often with poor survival. Locally advanced breast cancers of this and other types account for five to ten percent of new breast cancer diagnoses in the United States, and sixty to seventy percent of cases worldwide. Now, in a recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, Fox Chase scientists cast doubt on that standard classification, by showing that women with breast cancers involving the skin have widely varied survival rates which differ by tumor size and nodal involvement.

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