by Internet Medical Society
At the time of breast cancer diagnosis, the oncologist orders several tests to identify the stage, grade, and size of the cancer. The breast cancer stage depicts the actual size of cancer and its extent of spread in the body of the patient.
People are often confused between the grade of cancer and its stage. These two are completely different terms. Cancer grade describes how abnormal tumor cells are as compared to normal cells. On the other hand, cancer stage describes the extent of spread and the size of the cancer. It also explains whether cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or not.
The following are the four stages of breast cancer that a patient may be diagnosed with:
Stage 1: There are two types of Stage 1 breast cancer — Stage 1A and Stage 1B. Stage 1A breast cancer means that the cancer is less than or equal to 2 cm in size and has not spread outside the breast tissue. Stage 2A cancer indicates that the cancer is less than 2 cm in size but a few cells have migrated to lymph nodes under the arm. It may also indicate the presence of a few cancer cells in the lymph nodes in the armpit but no cancer in the breasts.
Stage 2: There are two types of Stage 2 breast cancer — Stage 2A and Stage 2B. Stage 2A breast cancer indicates cancer less than 5 cm in size in the presence or absence of a few cancer cells in one to three lymph nodes near the breastbone or under the arm. Stage 2B means that the cancer is larger than 2 cm but less than 5 cm and two to three lymph nodes are also affected. It could also mean cancer greater than 5 cm in size and absence of cancer cells in the lymph nodes.
Stage 3: There are three types of Stage 3 breast cancer — Stage 3A, Stage 3B, and Stage 3C.
Stage 3A cancer characteristics:
Stage 3B cancer characteristics:
Stage 3C cancer characteristics:
Stage 4: This stage is characterized by the spread of cancer cells to other tissues or organs in the body such as liver, brain, or lungs. Cancer can be of any size and may have affected multiple lymph nodes in the body.
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