Just like other types of cancer, even breast cancer is divided into several stages and sub stages which is known as stage grouping to help gauge the range of the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body and each stage has different survival rates, with the survival rate at stage 0 being the highest and those at stage IV the lowest.
Usually if the breast cancer is detected in the early stages of its formation, diagnosed correctly and if treatment is started immediately, there are very good chances of recovery.
Breast cancer stages are expressed in roman numerals from stage 0 to stages I, II, III, IV. Then A, B, C are used to denote the sub stages such as stages III A, III B, III C. Following is a summary of the breast cancer stages: Stage 0 is referred to as carcinoma in situ or DCIS. At Stage I the tumor has not reached axillary lymph nodes.
At stage II A, the size of the tumor will vary between 2 cm and 5 cm and it won’t have reached the lymph nodes which are axillary. However, if the tumor is smaller than 2 centimeters in diameter, then lymph nodes which are axillary might have been attacked.
At stage II B, if the tumor is bigger than 5 centimeter, lymph nodes which are axillary will remain unaffected but if the tumor is sized between 2 and 5 cm, then the cancer would have clawed its way to less than 4 axillary nodes.
The same holds true for stage III A, but here if the tumor is sized between 2 and 5 centimeters, then the cancer would have traveled to four or even more numbers of axillary nodes. At stage III B, the tumor may have attacked less than 10 axillary lymph nodes or the skin of the breast or chest wall might have been penetrated.
More than ten lymph nodes which are axillary will have fallen prey to the cancer at stage III C, or internal mammary lymph nodes or infraclavicular lymph nodes or more than 10 supraclavicular lymph nodes. Stage IV is identified with distant metastasis.