This information is based on AJCC Staging systems prior to 2018 which were primarily based on tumor size and lymph node status. Since the updated staging system for breast cancer now also includes estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and HER2 status, the stages may be higher or lower than previous staging systems. Whether or not treatment strategies will change with this new staging system are yet to be determined. You should discuss your stage and treatment options with your doctor.
The stage of your breast cancer is an important factor in making decisions about your treatment options. In general, the more the breast cancer has spread, the more treatment you will likely need. But other factors can also be important, such as:
Talk with your doctor about how these factors can affect your treatment options.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Henry NL, Shah PD, Haider I, Freer PE, Jagsi R, Sabel MS. Chapter 88: Cancer of the Breast. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2020.
Jagsi R, King TA, Lehman C, Morrow M, Harris JR, Burstein HJ. Chapter 79: Malignant Tumors of the Breast. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2019.
National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Breast Cancer Treatment – Health Professional Version. 2021. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/hp/breast-treatment-pdq on August 17, 2021.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Breast Cancer. Version 6.2021. Accessed at https://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/breast.pdf on August 17, 2021.
Last Revised: September 18, 2019