Breast Cancer Stages

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Breast cancer occurs gradually and step by step. Breast cancer stages are decided by undertaking certain factors such as the size of the tumor and the extent at which these tumors are spread (nearby lymph nodes or another body parts). Doctors divide breast cancer into four stages. Usually the treatment of breast cancer is decided by considering the grade of the cancer and the TNM (tumor nodes metastasis) stage of the patient. Here tumor means either an area of cancer cells or a lump of breast found during scan or mammogram.

Breast cancer breakthrough has to be reliable and effective enough to curb cancerous growth in initial breast cancer stages and avoid tumor recurrence. Doctors sometimes compute programmes such as Adjuvant Online or place the staging related information into a formula, which is termed as NPI (Nottingham Prognostic Indicator); this helps them to get the idea about how accurate the treatment will work on a particular patient.

How breast cancer stages divided?

Breast cancer stages are expressed by a number on a scale of 0 to 4. 0 stage refers to non-invasive cancer (remains at its original site), while the 4th stage describes the invasive cancers that spreads beyond the breast towards other parts of body. The tests and scans, that you undergo to diagnose cancer, provide some information about the breast cancer stage. Knowing your stage of breast cancer is significant since it helps the doctor to decide the best treatment and medications for you. Some factors such as grade of the cancer, TNM stage and whether the cells contain the biological therapy drugs or receptors for hormones help to decide the treatment for breast cancer.

Breast Cancer staging system:

Breast cancer life expectancy is useful to know general chances of survival of a victim and depends mainly on breast cancer stage. The breast cancer stages are discussed below in brief:

Stage 0:

Breast Cancer Stages Stage 0 describes non-invasive breast cancers, such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). In stage 0, no evidence of the non cancerous abnormal cells or cancer cells can be found to be breaking out of the breast, where they started to develop. They do not appear to invade the neighboring normal tissue.

Stage 1:

  • The tumor is about 1 centimeter in diameter.
  • The tumor is not spread in the neighboring areas
  • The cancer cells are not spread till the lymph nodes in the armpit.

Stage 2:

Stage 2 is further divided into two stages:

Stage 2A:

  • The tumor is less than 5 cm. There are no evidences of cancer cells in armpit lymph nodes and neighboring body parts.
  • The tumor is small than 2cm, the lymph nodes in the armpit contains cancerous cells that are not stuck to each other and has spread in the neighboring area.
  • Even if there is no tumor in the breast, cancerous cells can be seen in the lymph nodes on the armpit, but they are not connected with each other or any other structures. Even no signs of their spread can be seen in other structures of the body.

Stage 2B:

  • The tumor can be bigger than 5 cm, with no cancer cells in the lymph nodes under the arms. These cells are not spread in other areas as well.
  • The can be smaller than 5cm and the cancerous cells are present in the lymph nodes in the armpit, but they are not stuck to each other and has not spread over any other area.

Stage 3:

Breast cancer in stage 3 is divided into 3 groups:

Stage 3A:

  • Although cancer cells are present in the armpit, no tumor is present in the breast. These cancer cells are stuck with each other as well as other body structures but do not show any evidence of cancer spread.
  • The tumor is bigger than 5 cm, and the lymph nodes under the arms are connected with each other but they do not spread further.
  • The tumor can be 5 cm or less in diameter and the cancer cells are present in the lymph under the arms and are stuck with each other, but the cancer does not spread in the neighboring areas.

Stage 3B:

  • The tumor is present on the skin of the chest wall, cancerous cells may be or may not be present in the lymph nodes, but there is no further spread.

Stage 3C:

  • The tumor can be present is any size and has spread under the breast bone from the lymph nodes in the armpit. These can nodes do not spread further.

Stage 4:

This is one of the fatal breast cancer stages, which destroys the other body organs as well.

  • In this stage, the tumor can be of any size.
  • Cancerous cells may or may not be present in the lymph nodes
  • The cancer cells spread to the other structures of the body such as the bones, liver or lungs.

If the cancer cells are present in the lymph nodes under the arms as well as breast on the same side, you are not at stage 4 of the breast cancer. If the cancer is spread towards the other parts of the body then only you are considered to be at Stage 4.

Advanced and metastatic are the terms use to describe the stage 4 breast cancer. Consult a doctor to know more about breast cancer stages and the precise treatments to cure breast cancer.

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