The stage of breast cancer is one of the most important factors in evaluating treatment options. If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, you’ll want to know what stage it is. The answers will help you and your doctors know more about what’s ahead and decide on your treatments.
The cancer is small and may be difficult to detect, and no lymph nodes are involved.
A cancer may be detected during a breast self-exam as a hard lump within the breast.
The cancer cells have usually not spread to more distant sites in the body, but they are present in several axillary (underarm) lymph nodes. The cancer may also be quite large at this stage, possibly extending to the chest wall or the skin of the breast.
The cancer in this stage has spread beyond the breast, underarm and internal mammary lymph nodes to other parts of the body near to or distant from the breast, also known as metastatic breast cancer. The affected areas may include the bones, brain, lungs or liver and more than one part of the body may be involved.
However, breast self-exams and routine screening are always important and can often lead to early diagnosis, when the cancer is most treatable.