What Are the Stages of Breast Cancer?
The Stages of Breast Cancer
There are different stages in the progression of breast cancer.
Stage 0 breast cancer is when the disease is localized to the milk ducts (carcinoma in situ).
Stage I breast cancer is when the cancer is smaller than 1 inch across and hasn't spread to other parts of the body.
Stage II breast cancer is one of the following:
- The tumor is less than an inch across but has spread to the underarm lymph nodes (IIA)
- The tumor is between 1 and 2 inches (with or without spreading to the lymph nodes)
- The tumor is larger than 2 inches and has not spread to the lymph nodes under the arm (both IIB)
Advanced breast cancer (metastatic) results after cancer cells spread to the lymph nodes and to other parts of the body.
Stage III breast cancer is also called "locally advanced breast cancer." The tumor is larger than 2 inches and has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm, or a tumor that is any size with cancerous lymph nodes that adhere to one another or to surrounding tissue (IIIA).
Stage IIIB breast cancer is a tumor of any size that has spread to the skin, chest wall, or internal mammary lymph nodes (located beneath the breast and inside the chest).
Stage IV breast cancer is defined as a tumor, regardless of size, that has spread to areas away from the breast, such as bones, lungs or lymph nodes.
What Are the Warning Signs of Breast Cancer?
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle
- A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea
- A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast
- A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from the nipple
- A change in the look or feel of the skin on the breast or nipple (dimpled, puckered, scaly or inflamed)
- Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple
- An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast
- A marble-like hardened area under the skin
These changes may be found when performing monthly breast self-exams. By performing breast self-exams, you can become familiar with the normal monthly changes in your breasts.
Breast self-examination should be performed at the same time each month, three to five days after your menstrual period ends. If you have stopped menstruating, perform the exam on the same day of each month.
For more information on breast cancer, download the Free Breast Cancer Treatment Guide.