Stages of Breast Cancer


Authored by Kristian Keefer in Diseases 
Published on 03-10-2009

Breast cancer is a frightening disease that courageous women face each and every day. More women than ever are beating cancer and joining the survivors. There are four stages of invasive breast cancer. Physicians can also refer to Stage O breast cancer. This is the stage in which cancer has not spread outside of the breast tissue. At this point, the cancer cannot be labeled as being invasive cancer.

Stage I is the first stage of invasive breast cancer. This is the first stage in which cancerous cells are found in areas other than breast tissue. There is no cancer of the lymph nodes in stage I cancer. Any tumors will be measured at 2 centimeters or less.

There are actually two categories of Stage II breast cancer. In the first category, cancer might or might not have spread into axillary lymph nodes. Stage IIA is when the breast cancer falls into one of three categories. A woman might have cancer cells but not a tumor. Stage IIA is also the stage of breast cancer when a woman has a tumor that is 2-5cm but does not have any cancer cells in axillary lymph nodes. If the cancer ha spread into the lymph nodes but the tumor is equal to or less than 2 centimeters, a woman is described as having Stage IIA cancer.

If a woman has a tumor that is more than 5 centimeters but does not have any cancer present in the axillary lymph nodes, she has Stage IIB cancer. If a woman has cancer in the lymph nodes and a tumor that is 2-5cm, she has entered into Stage IIB breast cancer.

There are three categories of Stage III cancer. If a woman’s tumor spread to the lymph nodes that are sticking to other body structures or to one another, she has Stage IIIA cancer. The same is true if cancer cells are found in clumps of axillary lymph nodes or nodes that are clumped with other body structures, even if there is not yet a tumor.

If breast cancer has spread into lymph nodes in close proximity to the breastbone or if cancer cells are in the tumor tissues or chest wall tissues, a woman has Stage IIIB cancer regardless of the size of the tumor. Breast cancer can be listed as being Stage IIIC if it has spread to axillary lymph nodes of the breastbone or near the collarbone.

Stage IV breast cancer is the most serious stage. At this point, cancer has spread well beyond the breast region. A woman in this stage of breast cancer could have cancer cells or tumors in any organ.

A woman’s prognosis is impacted by the stage of breast cancer. However, a woman at any stage of breast cancer needs to know that breast cancer is being combated more successfully than ever. The treatment measures used by a woman’s team of physicians will vary depending upon the stage of breast cancer.


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