STAGES OF BREAST CANCER: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN
STAGES OF BREAST CANCER: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
By Virginia Buchanan, Attorney at Law, www.levinlaw.com
Your doctor has told you that you have Stage II (two) cancer, but hasn’t been clear about what that means. What are the definitions for the different Stages of Cancer is a frequently asked question; here is a simple breakdown:
The statistics regarding the likelihood of having breast cancer during a woman’s lifetime are staggering. It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will have breast cancer. When breast cancer is diagnosed, a process called “staging” is generally utilized to help determine the proper plan of treatment and the prognosis.
There are five stages of breast cancer:
Stage 0 is the stage of cancer when it is non-invasive. Stage 0 cancer patients show no evidence of cancer cells invading the adjoining healthy tissue.
Stage I involves invasive breast cancer, where cancer cells are breaking through or invading the adjoining healthy tissues. The tumor measures up to 2 centimeters, and there are no positive lymph notes.
Stage II means that the patient has a tumor which is at least 2 centimeters in diameter but no more than 5 centimeters OR the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm next to the affected breast.
Stage III cancer can be sub-classified into Stage IIIA or IIIB.
Stage III A is a tumor measuring more than 5 centimeters OR the tumor has spread to the lymph notes and the nodes are clumping to one another or to surrounding tissue.
Stage III B includes invasive breast cancer in which a tumor of any size has spread to the breast skin, chest wall, or internal mammary lymph nodes (located beneath the breast inside the chest). This stage also includes inflammatory breast cancer.
Inflammatory breast cancer is a very uncommon and aggressive type of breast cancer. Its distinguishing feat is that in causes redness of part or all of the breast. It can be misdiagnosed as an infection.
Stage IV is a significant and advanced stage of cancer for a patient to have. It involves invasive breast cancer in which the tumor has spread beyond the breast and internal mammary lymph nodes. The cancer is also in other areas such as the lungs, liver, bone or brain.
Breast cancer is a serious illness; fortunately, with earlier diagnosis and development of various chemotherapy agents, women are able to enjoy a better outlook than previously thought.