Breast cancer passes through several stages but the important stages of breast cancer are divided into four stages. The stage is normally expressed as a number on a scale and here we will be taking 1 to 4 stages of breast cancer. The stages 1 through 3 will represent the non-invasive cancer and stage 4 will represent invasive cancer that can spread to other parts of the body through breast.
The detailed study of breast cancer can be done with the help of the TNM staging system which is a part of the four main stages of breast cancer. The stage of breast cancer plays an important role as it helps the doctor in the diagnosis, treatment option and the outcome of the treatment of the disease.
The determination of the stage of the breast cancer is done with the examination of the tissue during a mastectomy or lumpectomy and the lymph of the nodes present under the arm. The various stages of breast cancer help to know how severe is the cancer and whether it has gone beyond the breast. The four main stages of breast cancer are explained here:
Stages of Breast Cancer
Stage I Breast Cancer
The first stage of breast cancer shows three main characteristics. These are if the tumor is not more than 2 cm in size, the cancer is not spread to the nodes of the lymph and to other parts of the body than the breast.
Stage II Breast Cancer
The tumor increases in size and it is between 2 to 5 cm. The cancer spreads to the nodes of the lymph in some cases or it has spread to not more than three ancillary lymph nodes. In some cases, the tumor is not present but some cells of breast cancer are found.
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Stage III Breast Cancer
In this stage,the breast cancer is known as advanced cancer as it has spread to lymph nodes. The area where it is spread is the lymph nodes near the breast and under the arm or under the collarbone. It has not spread to distant parts of the body.
Inflammatory breast cancer: In this type of cancer, cancer cells block the lymphatic vessels in the skin of the breast and leads to inflammation and swelling of the skin. Any kind of lump or mass does not exist in this type of cancer. This cancer comes under stage 3.
Stage IV Breast Cancer
The stage 4 cancer is the most serious cancer. In this stage, the cancer cells reach other neighboring parts of the body like bones, lungs, liver and brain. This cancer is also known by the term metastatic breast cancer.
TNM Staging System
This is the last staging system used to provide full information on how the cancer looks and the possible consequences of the cancer. The term TNM means Tumor, Node and Metastasis. It is usually based on three important characteristics which includes the size of the tumor, lymph node involvement and if the cancer has metastasized means if the cancer has moved to other parts of the body. Some clinical tests require the TNM information for detailed study of cancer.
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