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Breast Cancer Staging and Prognosis

Staging of Breast Cancer is based on multiple factors including tumor size, spread to axillary (underarm) lymph nodes and spread to other parts of the body. The earliest stage cancers (carcinoma in situ) are stage 0. Invasive cancer stages range from 1 to 4. Staging helps determine prognosis and treatment. Advanced or higher stage Breast Cancers require more invasive treatments and have decreased survival rates. Early stage Breast Cancer may be treated with surgery or radiation therapy and surgery without the need for chemotherapy. Detailed Breast Cancer staging information is available on the American Cancer Society website cancer.org.

Approximate five-year survival rates for invasive Breast Cancer by stage are:

  • Stage 1: 99-100%
  • Stage 2: 93%
  • Stage 3: 72%
  • Stage 4: 22%

When invasive Breast Cancer is small (2 cm or less) and confined to the breast (stage 1) at the time of detection, the five-year survival rate is close to 100%. When Breast Cancer has metastasized to distant organs such as the liver (stage 4), the 5 year survival rate decreases to about 22 %. Delayed Diagnosis may result in spread of Breast Cancer outside the breast.