My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Ask Your Question

WebMD Answers

120 Characters remaining
120 Characters remaining
  • First, try and keep your question as short as possible.
  • Include specific words that will help us identify questions that may already have your answer.
  • If you don't find your answer, you can post your question to WebMD Experts and Contributors.

Close

Posted: | Report This Report Question |
Q.

How is breast cancer staging determined?

Related Topics: Breast Cancer
 

Answers From Experts & Organizations (1)

5,093 Answers
155,742 Helpful Votes
132 Followers
A.

To plan your treatment, your doctor needs to know the extent (stage) of the disease. The stage is based on the size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread. Staging may involve X-rays and lab tests. These tests can show whether the cancer has spread and, if so, to what parts of your body. When breast cancer spreads, cancer cells are often found in lymph nodes under the arm (axillary lymph nodes). The stage often is not known until after surgery to remove the tumor in your breast and the lymph nodes under your arm.

These are the stages of breast cancer:

  • Stage 0 is carcinoma in situ.


    • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS): Abnormal cells are in the lining of a lobule. LCIS seldom becomes invasive cancer. However, having LCIS in one breast increases the risk of cancer for both breasts.


    • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): Abnormal cells are in the lining of a duct. DCIS is also called intraductal carcinoma. The abnormal cells have not spread outside the duct. They have not invaded the nearby breast tissue. DCIS sometimes becomes invasive cancer if not treated.

  • Stage I is an early stage of invasive breast cancer. The tumor is no more than 2 centimeters (three-quarters of an inch) across. Cancer cells have not spread beyond the breast.


  • Stage II is one of the following:


    • The tumor in the breast is no more than 2 centimeters (three-quarters of an inch) across. The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.


    • The tumor is between 2 and 5 centimeters (three-quarters of an inch to 2 inches). The cancer may have spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.


    • The tumor is larger than 5 centimeters (2 inches). The cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.

  • Stage III is locally advanced cancer. It is divided into Stage IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC.


  • Stage IIIA is one of the following:


    • The tumor in the breast is smaller than 5 centimeters (2 inches). The cancer has spread to underarm lymph nodes that are attached to each other or to other structures. Or the cancer may have spread to lymph nodes behind the breastbone.


    • The tumor is more than 5 centimeters across. The cancer has spread to the underarm lymph nodes that are either alone or attached to each other or to other structures. Or the cancer may have spread to lymph nodes behind the breastbone.

  • Stage IIIB is a tumor of any size that has grown into the chest wall or the skin of the breast. It may be associated with swelling of the breast or with nodules (lumps) in the breast skin.


    • The cancer may have spread to lymph nodes under the arm.


    • The cancer may have spread to underarm lymph nodes that are attached to each other or other structures. Or the cancer may have spread to lymph nodes behind the breastbone.


    • Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare type of breast cancer. The breast looks red and swollen because cancer cells block the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. When a doctor diagnoses inflammatory breast cancer, it is at least Stage IIIB, but it could be more advanced.


  • Stage IIIC is a tumor of any size. It has spread in one of the following ways:


    • The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes behind the breastbone and under the arm.


    • The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under or above the collarbone.

  • Stage IV is distant metastatic cancer. The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.


  • Recurrent cancer is cancer that has come back (recurred) after a period of time when it could not be detected. It may recur locally in the breast or chest wall. Or it may recur in any other part of the body, such as the bone, liver, or lungs.

This answer should not be considered medical advice...down arrowThis answer should not be considered medical advice and should not take the place of a doctor’s visit. Please see the bottom of the page for more information or visit our Terms and Conditions.up arrow

Posted:
| Report This Report Answer
Archived: March 20, 2014

Was this helpful?

YesNo

Thanks for your feedback.

45 of 59 found this helpful
Read the Original Article: Breast Cancer
 
 

Next Question: