Breast cancer and its stages: An overview
Breast cancer is an alarming health issue faced by women worldwide. However, it is essential to know that even if a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, it may not be life-threatening. There are different stages of breast cancer, which indicate the size of the tumor and whether it is contained within the breast or spread to other parts of the body. The stage of cancer helps to determine proper prognosis and the best line of treatment, be it for stage 0 or advanced breast cancer treatment.
Cancer is non-invasive, and abnormal cells are found in the breast ducts. But these cells have not spread out of the part in which they are growing, or invaded the neighboring cells of the body.
This is invasive breast cancer that can be of two types – Stage 1A with a tumor of up to 2 centimeters and cancer hasn’t spread outside the breast, and Stage 1B with no tumor in the breast but small groups of cancer cells in the lymph nodes or a tumor in the breast not larger than 2 centimeters and small groups of cancer cells in the lymph nodes.
In Stage 2A, there could be no tumor in the breast but cancer in 1 to 3 auxiliary lymph nodes or in the lymph nodes near the breastbone. This stage could also see a tumor measuring either 2 centimeters or smaller or even larger than 2 centimeters but not more than 5 centimeters.
In stage 2B, the tumor grows between 2 and 5 centimeters in size with a small group of breast cancer cells in the lymph nodes or with 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes near to the breastbone.
Stage 3A could have no tumor, or a tumor of any size in the breast and cancer is found in 4 to 9 axillary lymph nodes or lymph nodes near the breastbone. The tumor could be larger than 5 centimeters with a group of cancer cells in the lymph nodes or cancer that has spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes.
Stage 3B has a tumor of any size and has spread to the walls of chest or 9 axillary lymph nodes or lymph nodes near the breastbone.
Stage 3C may have a tumor of any size, spread to the chest walls or affected more than ten axillary lymph nodes or cancer spread to lymph nodes near collarbone or breastbone.
Known as advanced breast cancer, cancer spreads beyond the breast to other parts of the body such as the lungs, distant lymph nodes, skin, bones, liver or brain. Advanced breast cancer treatments meant to treat advanced breast cancer stage are advised.
Once cancer has been diagnosed, it is imperative to determine the stage of cancer whether it is in the initial stages or is advanced breast cancer to ensure proper treatment.