Stages of Breast Cancer

Stages of Breast Cancer: Stage I

In stage I breast cancer:
 
  • The tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller
  • The tumor has not spread outside the breast.
     

Stages of Breast Cancer: Stage II

There are two types of stage II breast cancer:
 
  • Stage IIA
  • Stage IIB.
     
Stage IIA Breast Cancer
In stage IIA breast cancer:
 
  • No tumor is found in the breast, but cancer is found in the axillary lymph nodes (the lymph nodes under the arm)
  • The tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes
  • The tumor is larger than 2 centimeters but no larger than 5 centimeters and has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
     
Stage IIB Breast Cancer
In stage IIB breast cancer, the tumor is either:
 
  • Larger than 2 centimeters but no larger than 5 centimeters and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes
  • Larger than 5 centimeters but has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
     

Stages of Breast Cancer: Stage III

There are three types of stage III breast cancer:
 
  • Stage IIIA
  • Stage IIIB
  • Stage IIIC.
     
Stage IIIA Breast Cancer
In stage IIIA breast cancer:
 
  • No tumor is found in the breast, but cancer is found in axillary lymph nodes that are attached to each other or to other structures
  • The tumor is 5 centimeters or smaller and has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are attached to each other or to other structures
  • The tumor is larger than 5 centimeters and has spread to axillary lymph nodes that may be attached to each other or to other structures.
     
Stage IIIB Breast Cancer
In stage IIIB breast cancer, the cancer may be any size and:
 
  • Has spread to tissues near the breast (the skin or chest wall, including the ribs and muscles in the chest)
  • May have spread to lymph nodes within the breast or under the arm.
     
Stage IIIC Breast Cancer
In stage IIIC breast cancer, the cancer:
 
  • Has spread to lymph nodes beneath the collarbone and near the neck
  • May have spread to lymph nodes within the breast or under the arm and to tissues near the breast.
     
Stage IIIC breast cancer is divided into operable and inoperable stage IIIC. In operable stage IIIC, the cancer:
 
  • Is found in 10 or more of the lymph nodes under the arm
  • Is found in the lymph nodes beneath the collarbone and near the neck on the same side of the body as the breast with cancer
  • Is found in lymph nodes within the breast itself and in lymph nodes under the arm.
     
In inoperable stage IIIC breast cancer, the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes above the collarbone and near the neck on the same side of the body as the breast with cancer.
 
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