Stages of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer comes in many stages. The rate of survival improves the earlier the cancer is detected.

Stage 0: Cancerous cells have not spread outside of the ducts or lobules into surrounding breast tissue. This stage is classified in two types, ductual carcinoma in situ and lobular carcinoma in situ. This is a very early cancer, which, if caught promptly, can be successfully treated.

Stage I: The cancer is no larger than 2 centimeters and has not spread beyond the breast to lymph nodes.

Stage IIA: The tumor can be larger than 2 centimeters but no larger than 5. Or, the cancer is not larger than 2 centimeters, but has spread to up to three auxiliary underarm lymph nodes.

Stage IIB: The tumor has grown between 2 and 5 centimeters and has spread to up to three auxiliary underarm lymph nodes. Or, the cancer is larger than 5 centimeters but has not spread.

Stage IIIA: The tumor is between 2 and 5 centimeters in size and has spread to at least 9 auxiliary underarm lymph nodes.

Stage IIIB: The tumor has spread beyond the breast to tissues nearby, such as the skin, chest wall, ribs, muscles, or lymph nodes in the chest wall.

Stage IV: The cancer has spread to other organs or tissues.

In terms of 5-year survival rate, individuals with Stage 0 can expect 100 percent recovery. Individuals with Stage IV, however, have a 16 percent survival rate.

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