Breast cancer is a malignant growth that develops breast cells. It usually begins in a small area in or around the glands that produce milk or in the ducts, which carry it to the nipple. It can expand in the breast through the lymph nodes. If not detected and treated in time, it can grow and invade the tissue around the breast. Among women, breast cancer is the second most common cancer after skin cancer with one out of eight women developing it in her lifetime. Breast cancer is categorized by different stages. Let’s get in-depth information about it.
Breast cancer stages are categorized based on where the cancer is located and how much the tumor has grown and spread. Diagnostic tests are done to identify the various stages of breast cancer. It helps the doctor decide what kind of treatment is best for the fastest recovery.
1. Stage 0
This is the initial stage of breast cancer in which the cancer cells are found only in the lining of the breast duct. It is called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Sometimes there are abnormal cells in the breast lobules as well.
2. Stage 1
At this level, the cancer is called invasive, which attacks healthy tissues. This stage is further broken down into:
3. Stage 2
In this stage of cancer, the tumor has grown in size or spread; or both. It is again broken down into:
Here, the tumor in the breast is still small, but then again, there may not be a tumor at all. The lymph nodes might or might not have cancer cells, or in the worst case, it could have spread to all three.
The size of the tumor is bigger, about the size of a walnut or a lime. It could have gone into the lymph nodes.
4. Stage 3
This is one of the advanced breast cancer stages, in which the tumor has not spread to the bones or other organs, but it is hard to fight. This stage is categorized into:
By now the cancer is found nine of the lymph nodes, like a chain from the underarm to the collarbone. It could have spread to or increased the size of the lymph nodes deep in the breast. At times there could be a large tumor in the breast, but in some cases, there may be no tumor at all.
In this stage, the tumor has spread to the chest wall or the skin around the breast.
5. Stage 4
The last stage of cancer, in which the tumor has spread away from the breast and the lymph nodes around it. It can now be found in the lungs, liver, bones, and brain. It is called the metastatic stage, which means that the tumor has spread beyond the region where it was found initially. This is one of the toughest breast cancer stages to treat.