Learn about the stages of breast cancer.
We all know someone who has had breast cancer, or worse, died from it. And it’s difficult when our friends get breast cancer to know just how serious it is. Don’t get us wrong, breast cancer at any stage is not good. However, understanding the stages of breast cancer helps us know just what that friend of ours is going through. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, 226,870 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 39,510 of women will die from the disease during the year of 2012. Here is how to understand the stages of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Stages
Although at first the stages of breast cancer may seem simple, they can, at times, be complex. Breast cancer stages range from stage zero to stage four, and roman numerals are used to depict the numbers. When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, her pathology report should include the stage.
- The key to understanding the stages of breast cancer is understanding if the cancer is in just one area of the breast, has morphed into other breast tissues or moved on to other parts of the body.
- Additionally, when breast cancer is “staged,” the classification is based on four premises: size of the breast cancer, whether the cancer cells are in the lymph nodes, whether the cancer is invasive or non-invasive and if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Stage 0 Breast Cancer
This is the stage if you are diagnosed with breast cancer and is the name for a “non-invasive” breast cancer. This basically means that the cancer spot is only in one area and has not spread anywhere. You should take any action you can during this stage to become a healthier person. Talk with your doctor about how you can start on the path to the "healthiest you" you can be!
Stage l Breast Cancer
This stage says that cancer cells have indeed spread to other breast tissue from the original spot. There are sub-categories of this stage. Stage 1A means that the tumor is as large as 2cm and the cancer is still in just the breast. Stage 1B means that instead of a tumor, there are small cancer cells that have formed in groups or, perhaps, have entered the lymph node regions.
Stage ll Breast Cancer
This stage is also categorized into two groups. Stage llA means the cancer is invasive but there is no tumor in the breast. However, the cancer cells have been found in the lymph nodes around the armpit area. Stage llB means the cancer is invasive and the tumor is bigger than 2 centimeters, capped at 5 centimeters, and has moved to the armpit (called axillary) lymph nodes. The tumor could additionally be over 5 centimeters but has not moved to the armpit area.
Stage lll Breast Cancer
This stage has all three categories listed above and basically has to do with the spreading of cancer to the axillary lymph nodes, breastbone and surrounding areas. The patient may also have inflammatory breast cancer. Signs of inflammatory breast cancer are a reddened area of a significantly large part of the breast, feeling warmth in the swollen breast or the cancer cells have moved to the lymph nodes and are found in the skin cells.
This is the worst stage of breast cancer to be diagnosed with. Stage 4 breast cancer means that the cancer is advanced and has spread to other parts of the body such as the brain, lungs, bones, skin, liver or farther away lymph nodes. Stage 4 can either be the result of previous cancer or first diagnosis.
The best way to prevent breast cancer is to do regular self-breast exams, schedule yearly doctors appointments, have regular blood work done, and please, schedule a mammogram if you are of age or have a family history of breast cancer!
Have you gotten your mammogram? Are you doing self-breast exams? It’s easy to think that there is no time, but ladies, we need to take care of ourselves!