Breast cancer is a disease that occurs in stages. The sooner that you can diagnose breast cancer, the better chance you have of making a full recovery. Consequently, those who wait and dont address the problem stand a much higher risk of death from this disease. For this article, well be talking about the various stages that the disease goes through as the cancer grows.
Four plus One
There are 4 stages of breast cancer, and there is also a zero stage. The zero stage occurs when abnormal cells have appeared inside the linings of the breast ducts. These cells have not yet spread outside of the duct and to the other breast tissues, and while they represent a chance of getting breast cancer, being in stage zero does not mean that a person will develop breast cancer.
It is merely a precursor to what MAY result in breast cancer. In stage one of breast cancer, there is a tumor present. This stage is reached when a tumor has developed that is under 2 centimeters in size, or roughly the size of a peanut or smaller. The tumor also exists only inside the breast, and has not spread to other parts of the body.
** Second Stage**
Stage two of breast cancer is grouped into two subcategories: stage two-a and stage two-b. In stage two of breast cancer, there are several different possibilities. The first is that there is no cancer present inside the breast. However, these stage two-a sufferers have a cancer present in the axillary lymph nodes which are located underneath the arm.
The other type of breast cancer that can occur in stage two-a are tumors that are in between the size constraints of two and five centimeters which have not yet spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
Stage two-b breast cancer denotes a stage two-a condition that has worsened. In the case of tumors that are found in the axillary lymph nodes, the cancer has grown to a size larger than two centimeters yet smaller than five centimeters.
In those stage two cases which develop purely inside the breast, stage two-b represents a tumor that has grown in size to be larger than five centimeters but still has not spread outside of the breast. A tumor around the size of five centimeters can be roughly estimated by looking at an average sized lime.
Stage Three: Spreading
Stage three represents one of the most significant risks associated with breast cancer; the spreading of the disease throughout the body. In stage three-a, tumors that are present in the axillary lymph nodes have attached themselves to other entities in the body, increasing the risk of a spread. In cancers found in the breast, stage three-a represents a connection between the five-centimeter-or-smaller tumor and the axillary lymph nodes.
Also, tumors that are five centimeters or above that have spread to the lymph nodes fall into this category. In stage three-b, the cancerous tumor that is present could be of any size; this stage is denoted by the cancer spreading to tissues outside of the breast, such as the skin, the ribs, or muscles around the chest. Also, the cancer may have spread to lymph nodes that are present underneath the arm.
In addition to stages three-a and three-b, there is also a three-c. When stage three-c is present, doctors need to diagnose whether or not it is even operable. In this stage the cancer has spread to lymph nodes located near the neck and collarbone or other tissues near the breast. When the lymph nodes that are located ABOVE the neck are affected, the cancer is said to be inoperable. Operable stage three-c cases are denoted by the cancer spreading to lymph nodes present that are lower than the neck and collarbone.
Stage four breast cancer represents a full spreading of the cancer to the other organs of the body, including the bones, liver, lungs, or the brain. As you can now see, it is important to diagnose breast cancer as early as possible to increase your chance of survival.