Breast Cancer Home > Breast Cancer Stages
Doctors use the different stages of breast cancer to express the progression of the disease based on such factors as the size of the tumor and whether it has spread. It is important to determine the stage in order to plan treatment. Stages include 0 through IV and recurrent breast cancer. In many instances, the stage of the disease cannot be accurately determined until after surgery has been performed to remove the tumor.
To plan your treatment, your healthcare provider needs to know the extent of the disease. This is called the stage of breast cancer stage. This determination is based on such factors as the size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread.
To accurately diagnose the breast cancer stage, x-rays and lab tests may be used. These tests can show whether the cancer has spread and, if so, to what parts of your body. When the disease spreads, cancer cells are often found in lymph nodes under the arm (axillary lymph nodes). The stage often is not known until after surgery is performed to remove the tumor in your breast and the lymph nodes under your arm.
The different stages of breast cancer include:
- Stage 0 (including lobular carcinoma in situ and ductal carcinoma in situ)
- Stage I
- Stage II (including IIA and IIB)
- Stage III (including IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC)
- Stage IV
Stage 0 is carcinoma in situ. (In situ means "in place.") There are two types:
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).
Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS)
In this type of breast cancer, abnormal cells are in the lining of a lobule. LCIS seldom becomes invasive cancer. However, having LCIS in one breast increases the risk of cancer in both breasts.