Breast Cancer Stages: Importance Of Knowing Breast Cancer Stages

by Lee, Michael - Date: 2009-04-24 - Word Count: 699 Share This!

Determining the breast cancer stages is important since it enables the patient and doctor to identify the treatment necessary for one's condition. Also, it is essential in assessing the risk of the given condition and what lifestyle changes the patient can do to improve their health.

Identifying A Breast Cancer's Stage

When talking about breast cancer stages, it is aimed at describing the extent of the cancer in the body. So, if you ask how a breast cancer is staged, doctors often start to classify whether it is invasive or non-invasive. Other factors considered are the tumor size, number of nymph modes involved, and what other parts of the body it has managed to affect.

Determining a cancer's stage is helpful during prognosis and deciding on a treatment option.

To determine the stage, a few standard procedures are done by the doctor on a patient. They undergo physical exam and biopsy to acquire the data needed by the doctor for the diagnosis.

If needed, further tests are also conducted such as imaging tests that include x-ray, bone scans, mammograms for the breasts, CT scans, positron emission tomography (PET), and magentic resonance imaging.

What Are the Breast Cancer Stages?

Now that the importance of determining the different breast cancer stages have been clarified, as well as the methods used to identify them, it is now time to move on to discussing each of the stages. Take note of the features and extent of the cancer in each of the stages:

Breast Cancer Stage 0

This stage renders the case of breast cancer to be non-invasive. At this point of the breast cancer, cancer or non-cancerous cells cannot be detected yet.

The abnormal cells are still at the stage wherein they try to spread out within the specific part of the breast where the cells are rooted. Also, they can try to expand on the neighboring tissues as the cancerous cells continue to grow.

Breast Cancer Stage I

Once the breast cancer enters this stage, it is now categorized as an invasive type of breast cancer. Meaning, the cancer cells have now worked their way towards the neighboring tissues. Stage I breast cancer also exhibit the following characteristics:

The cancerous tumor has reached the size of 2 centimeters.
No lymph modes are affected.

Breast Cancer Stage II

For this particular stage of breast cancer, it is also known as an invasive type of cancer and is broken down into two more categories:

1) Stage IIA

Even in this particular stage, the conditions can be different:

A tumor does not exist in the breast but cancerous cells are detected in the lymph nodes.
A tumor could exist but measures less than 2 centimeters;
The tumor has expanded beyond 2 centimeters but less than 5 centimeters without reaching the lymph nodes.

2) Stage IIB

This invasive level of the cancer are recognized as either one of the following:

The tumor exceeds 2 centimeters in size but less than 5 centimeters, while also reaching the lymph nodes.
The tumor is more than 5 centimeters in size but has not yet reached the axillary lymph nodes.

Breast Cancer Stage III

1) Stage IIIA

In this stage, the tumor could either be detected or not. Aside from the axillary lymph nodes, cancer can also stick to other structures outside of the lymph nodes and become clumped together.

2) Stage IIIB

In this stage, the tumor can grow in size and affect other areas of the body outside of the actual breast, whether th chest wall or skin of the breast. This is the stage wherein inflammatory breast cancer takes place.

3) Stage IIIC

In some cases, sign of breast cancer might not be detectable yet. However, the tumor could already be spreading towards the breast skin, chest wall, and below your collarbone.

Breast Cancer Stage IV

In this level, the cancerous cells have managed to spread to various organs of the body. Therefore, the cancer is no longer restricted on the breast and lymph nodes, which signifies the initial diagnosis of breast cancer. The reason why diagnosis is done only during this stage is because cancerous cells were not detected while still within the breast.

Recognizing breast cancer stages does more than just identifying treatment options, but also enables doctors and patients to understand the developmental pattern of the disease.

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