Breast cancer is classified into various stages and of course, the higher the stage, the graver the outcome for the patient. Recognizing the stage of cancer helps doctors determine the extent of the condition and enables them to recommend an appropriate treatment plan.
Below are brief descriptions of each stage:
Stage 0: At this point, there is no evidence of invasive cancer cells. This stage describes non-invasive breast cancers, such as DCIS and LCIS.
Stage I: Invasive cancer has started to form.
Stage II: This stage is broken into two sub-stages, stage IIA and stage IIB. Stage II describes invasive cancer.
Stage III: This stage is further classified into three other categories, stage IIIA, IIIB and IIIC. Stage III also describes invasive cancer.
Stage IV: The breast cancer has spread to other organs of the body.
Stages 0, I and II are considered to be early. Some stages of III are also considered an early form of cancer. Other stage III cancer and stage IV are believed to be later or advanced stages.
As you can see, it is extremely important to identify breast cancer in its early stages. A delayed breast cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis can be deadly.
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Read more about the symptoms of breast cancer in our blog post, Avoid a Misdiagnosis: Know the Warning Signs of Breast Cancer.