What is Breast Cancer?
Before discussing stages of Breast Cancer, it is essential to know about the disease itself. Breast Cancer is 2nd most common invasive cancer after lung cancer. Costing us thousands of lives every year in the entire world, unfortunately, Pakistan has highest cases of breast cancer in Asia. Over 40,000 women lose their lives each year due to breast cancer here in Pakistan which now also includes the younger ones. A country where the majority are living their lives below the poverty line, ordinary women has no access to such treatments due to lack of health facilities. By the time breast cancer is diagnosed it already has stepped into advanced stages. Women are reluctant to undergo a medical checkup. If someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, most of them choose not to tell anyone in the family.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
- Lump or thickening in the breast, appearance of spots or changing color of breast skin
- Liquid discharge from breast or nipple.
- Skin dimpling or irritation.
- Redness, thickening or scaliness of breasts or nipples.
- Following a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Exercising and maintaining a healthy body mass.
- Getting a medical checkup if facing any allergic reactions on breasts including lump formation
Stages of Breast Cancer:
Stages of breast cancer usually range from 0-IV. The stage 0 indicates non-invasive cancer that stays at its original location as Non-malignant.Whereas stage IV refers to invasive malignant cancer that has spread around the body from breasts.
Most common and widely used system for breast cancer is the TNM system.
TNM stands for:
- T = Tumor size
- N = Lymph Node status (the location and number of lymph nodes affected by cancer)
- Metastases (whether or not cancer has spread to other areas of the body)
Stages of Breast Cancer
Stage 0: This is a pre-cancer of breast known as the earliest form of breast cancer. During this stage cancer cells are within a duct and have not invaded into surrounding breast tissues. So cancer has not spread to lymph nodes or distant sites.
Formation of 2cm or 3/4th of an inch, tumor takes place. However, cancer has not spread to lymph nodes or other adjacent parts of the body.
In this stage, tumor spreads to 1 to 3 axillary (underarm) lymph nodes, with cancer in the lymph nodes larger than 2 mm. Internal mammary lymph nodes (nodes near breastbone) on sentinel lymph node biopsy may also contain small amounts of cancer.
Tumor increases to 5cm, however, it still does not grow into chest skin. Cancer still has not spread to distant sites however Inflammation of breast may take place in the last of 3rd stage.
Cancer may or may not have been spread to lymph nodes, and it could be of any size. It has spread to a distant organ or lymph nodes far away from breasts. The most basic sites for its spread is bones, brains, liver or lungs.