The primary goal of breast cancer staging system is to manage as soon as possible the different factors and some of the personality features of the cancer into categories in order to make the cancer clear to treat.
Breast cancer stage is based on the size of the tumor, whether lymph nodes are affected, whether the cancer is metastatic or not, whether the cancer cells have receptors for hormones or other proteins, and whether the breast cancer has expand beyond the breast. The word tumor means either a breast lump or the area of cancer cells found on a scan or mammogram.
The prognosis for breast cancer commonly depends on its stage and there are typically five stages (0 to 5) with sub-stages:
Stage 0 is used to characterize non-invasive breast cancers, such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). In stage 0, there is no proof of cancer cells or non-cancerous abnormal cells breaking out of the part of the breast in which they started, or of getting through to or invading neighboring normal tissue.
In stage 1 breast cancer, the cancer is no larger than 2 cm and has not extended to surrounding outside the breast or lymph nodes.
Stage 2 breast cancer is classified into two groups according to whether or not it has spread to the lymph nodes and the size of the tumor:
Stage 2 A means
The tumor is less than 2 cm and has spread up to three auxiliary underarm lymph nodes. Or, the tumor has grown bigger than 2 cm, but no larger than 5 cm and has not extended to around lymph nodes.
Stage 2 B means
The breast cancer tumor has grown to between 2 and 5 cm and has spread to up to 3 auxiliary underarm lymph nodes. Or, the tumor is larger than 5 cm, but has not spread to the surrounding lymph nodes.
Stage 3 breast cancer is classified into 3 groups
Stage 3A means
- The tumor is 5 cm or less, the lymph nodes in the armpit contain cancer cells and are stuck to each other, but the cancer has not spread elsewhere
- Although no tumor is seen in the breast, the lymph nodes under the arm contain cancer cells and are stuck together or to other structures, but there is no sign of cancer spread
- The tumor is more than 5 cm, the lymph nodes in the armpit contain cancer cells and may be stuck together, but there is no further spread
Stage 3B means
- The tumor is fixed to chest wall or the skin, the lymph nodes may or may not contain cancer cells, but there is no further spread
Stage 3C means
- The tumor can be any size and has spread to lymph nodes in the armpit and under the breast bone, or to nodes above or below the collarbone, but there is no further spread
In stage 4 of breast cancer, the cancer has spread to other tissues or organs, such as the brain, liver, lungs, lymph nodes near the collarbone or skeletal system. In other words this in stage, cancer is going to metastasize.