Clinical Staging of Breast Cancer

The determination of whether your cancer is invasive or noninvasive (in situ), the information gathered from your medical history and physical examination, as well as an evaluation of your initial breast imaging (mammogram, ultrasound, and breast MRI) are all considered when identifying your breast cancer’s clinical stage. Once that stage is identified, your physician will be able to suggest the most appropriate treatment options.

Noninvasive Cancer Staging: Noninvasive breast cancer is classified as Tis, where “is” stands for in situ, or “in place.” In situ cancers, which are contained and do not spread to lymph nodes or outside the breast, are referred to as “stage 0.”

Invasive Cancer Staging: Invasive cancers have the potential to spread. The estimated size of the cancer and whether the cancer appears to have spread to the lymph nodes can be determined once the physician examines the breast and looks at the breast imaging, which usually includes a mammogram and ultrasound. If you have symptoms that suggest the cancer may have spread outside of the breast and lymph nodes, additional tests may be ordered. If you have bone pain, these tests may include a bone scan or PET scan.

Clinical vs Pathological Staging : Keep in mind that the clinical stage may differ from the pathological stage because once the cancer has been surgically removed the pathologist can measure it precisely. The pathological stage may also differ if you receive chemotherapy or hormone-blocking therapy before your breast cancer surgery (known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy and neoadjuvant hormonal therapy).

 

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