Breast cancer is a relatively common disease, affecting one in every eight American women during the course of their lifetimes, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. If you or another woman in your life has recently been diagnosed with the disease, you may be wondering how to decipher the information your breast cancer specialist has given you. Below is a brief guide to the staging process of breast cancer.
Similar to other cancers, an incidence of breast cancer can be divided into four distinct stages depending on its size, location, and severity.
- Stage 1 breast cancer refers to a tumor two centimeters or smaller in diameter. The tumor has not yet spread to the lymph nodes under the arm and is localized in the breast.
- Stage 2 breast cancer can be divided into two main stages: 2A and 2B. Stage 2A is characterized by a tumor smaller than two centimeters that has spread to the surrounding lymph nodes, a tumor that is larger than two centimeters and has not spread, or a tumor that cannot be found in the breast but has been detected in the surrounding lymph nodes. Stage 2B breast cancer is either larger than five centimeters and not found in the lymph nodes, or smaller than five centimeters and has spread to the lymph nodes.
- Stage 3 breast cancer is normally divided into three different stages that are again dependent upon cancer sizing and location. In all cases, the cancer has spread into the lymph nodes and possibly the skin and muscle surrounding the breast tissue.
- Stage 4 breast cancer has invaded the lymph nodes and has taken residence in secondary locations, metastasizing to tissues such as the lungs, liver, or bone.
With this information, your cancer specialist will determine the most effective and beneficial course of treatment. If you have any further questions about the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer, let Marla W. Dudak, MD be your resource. Contact her practice today by calling (888) 418-6759 to schedule your consultation.