Staging for breast cancer
Staging is a term used by doctors to describe how far cancer has spread.
For breast cancer, there are five stages.
Breast cancer staging uses the TNM system.
T is the total size of the tumor
N is for the number of the local lymph nodes involved with cancer
M is for the known presence of metastasis (cancer that has spread outside of the breast and local lymph nodes)
Stage 0 is the earliest stage of breast cancer. This refers to cancer cells that are still maintained by the wall of the duct and have not left the breast.
Stage 1 refers to breast cancers that are small and have not spread to the local lymph nodes.
Stage 2 refers to either breast cancers that are small and have spread to a few local lymph nodes OR cancers that are large but have not spread to local lymph nodes.
Stage 3 refers to cancers that are larger and have spread to multiple lymph nodes or have invaded into the skin or muscle.
Stage 4 refers to cancers that have spread to other organs in the body.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, talk with your doctor about your stage and what the appropriate treatment recommendations are for you.