Staging describes or classifies a cancer based on how much cancer there is in the body and where it is when first diagnosed. This is often called the extent of cancer. Information from tests is used to find out the size of the tumour, what part of the breast has cancer, whether the cancer has spread from where it first started and where the cancer has spread.
Overview Stage III breast cancer is characterized by one of the following:. Breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes is commonly referred to as node-positive disease. Effective treatment of stage III breast cancer requires both local and systemic therapy.
Hearing you have stage 3 breast cancer can bring many questions — about your diagnosis, survival, treatments, and more. First, stage 3 breast cancer means your cancer has spread beyond the tumor and has possibly gone to lymph nodes and muscle, but has not spread to nearby organs. Doctors divide stage 3 into more specific categories 3A, 3B, and 3C and the cancer subtype, meaning which type of breast cancer you have.
Put simply, the stage describes how widespread or advanced the cancer is in the breast tissue and possibly other parts of your body. Determining the stage helps doctors explain the breadth of the cancer to you. Breast cancer is also classified according to other characteristics.
Stage 3 breast cancer is more advanced than stage 2 but is not considered metastatic. With stage 3, cancer has not spread from the breast to organs or other distant sites in the body. Instead, cancer cells are constrained to nearby axillary underarm lymph nodes or those beneath your sternum breastbone or clavicle collarbone.
Staging and grading usually happens after your breast tumour has been removed by surgery, as a pathologist will need to test the tissue in a laboratory and examine it under a microscope. The grade of a tumour indicates what the cells look like and gives an idea of how quickly the cancer may grow and spread. Tumours are graded between 1 and 3.
Skip to Content. This is called the stage. Use the menu to see other pages. Staging is a way of describing where the cancer is located, how much the cancer has grown, and if or where it has spread.