Once a person is determined to have a malignant tumor or the diagnosis of breast cancer, the healthcare team will determine staging to communicate how far the disease has progressed. Knowing the stage helps determine the best way to contain and eliminate the breast cancer.
The stage of cancer indicates the size of the tumor of abnormal cells and whether or not those cells are contained to the place of origin. The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), indicating the cancer cell growth starts in the milk ducts.
Stage 2 means the breast cancer is growing, but it is still contained in the breast or growth has only extended to the nearby lymph nodes.
Stage 3 cancer means the breast cancer has extended to beyond the immediate region of the tumor and may have invaded nearby lymph nodes and muscles, but has not spread to distant organs. Although this stage is considered to be advanced, there are a growing number of effective treatment options.