Stages & Treatment of Breast Cancer

Stages of Breast Cancer

Cancer stages are based on the size of the tumor, whether the cancer is invasive or non-invasive, whether lymph nodes are involved, and whether the cancer has spread beyond the breast. The following are the stages of breast cancer:

Stage 0

is used to describe non-invasive breast cancers, such as DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in situ). In this stage, the cancer has not spread to the nearby tissues

Stage I

…is describe invasive breast cancer, in which the tumor measures up to 2 centimeters and no lymph nodes are involved.

Stage II

… describes invasive breast cancer in which the tumor is:
  • 2 centimeters or less and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
  • larger than 2 centimeters but not larger than 5 centimeters and has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
  • greater than 2 but not larger than 5 centimeters and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
  • larger than 5 centimeters but has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
  • The tumor measures 2 centimeters or less and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes.

Stage III

… is divided into subcategories known as IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC. Stage IIIA describes invasive breast cancer in which either:
  • No tumor is found in the breast. Cancer is found in axillary lymph nodes that are clumped together or sticking to other structures or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone.
  • The tumor is 5 centimeters or smaller and has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are clumped together or sticking to other structures.
  • The tumor is larger than 5 centimeters and has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are clumped together or sticking to other structures.
Stage IIIB describes invasive breast cancer in which: The tumor may be of any size and has spread to the chest wall and/or skin of the breast. May have spread to axillary lymph nodes that are clumped together or sticking to other structures or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone. Stage IIIC describes invasive breast cancer in which:
  • There may be no sign of cancer in the breast or, if there is a tumor, it may be any size and may have spread to the chest wall and/or the skin of the breast.
  • The cancer has spread to lymph nodes above or below the collarbone.
  • The cancer may have spread to axillary lymph nodes or to lymph nodes near the breastbone.

Stage IV

… describes invasive breast cancer in which the cancer has spread to other organs of the body, such as the lungs, liver, bone, or brain. Cancer-Survivor-Story-San-Francisco

Recurrent and Metastatic Breast Cancer

Locally recurrent breast cancer is the return of cancer to the area where a patient initially had it. When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body such as bones, liver, lungs or brain, it is called metastatic breast cancer. The sites where the cancer shows up are metastatic sites.

Treatment for Breast Cancer

Breast cancer treatment depends on extent of spread of the disease. Options for breast cancer treatment involves Local Therapy and Systemic Therapy. Local Therapy includes:
  • Surgery: Surgery could involve removing the whole breast (Mastectomy) or just the area where lump has formed (Lumpectomy).
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy
  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
Systemic Therapy involves
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Treatment Choices by Stage
Mastectomy Breast Cancer treatment depends mainly on the stage of the disease, the grade of the tumor, biopsy of the tumor and the general health of the patient. Reviewing all these factors, the health care provider will decide the treatment options.

Follow Up Care with Bay Area breast cancer specialists.

If you have any health problems between checkups, you should contact your doctor. Tell your doctor about any health problems, such as pain, loss of appetite or weight, changes in menstrual cycles, unusual vaginal bleeding, or blurred vision. Also talk to your doctor about headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, coughing or hoarseness, backaches, or digestive problems that seem unusual or that don’t go away. Such problems may arise months or years after treatment. They may suggest that the cancer has returned, but they can also be symptoms of other health problems.

Nutrition and Physical Activity

It’s important for you to take very good care of yourself before, during, and after cancer treatment. Taking care of yourself includes eating well and staying as active as you can. You need the right amount of calories to maintain a good weight. You also need enough protein to keep up your strength. Eating well may help you feel better and have more energy. Sometimes, especially during or soon after treatment, you may not feel like eating. You may feel uncomfortable or tired. You may find that foods don’t taste as good as they used to. In addition, the side effects of treatment such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth blisters can make it hard to eat well. On the other hand, some women treated for breast cancer may have a problem with weight gain. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you meet your nutrition needs.

Ask for a consult…

Contact us to request an appointment with one of our Bay Area breast cancer specialists at Diablo Valley Oncology who will discuss the treatment options available to treat your breast cancer.