Stage Groupings for Breast Cancer

These are the AJCC stage groupings for breast cancer. Each TNM category, with its assigned numerical value, falls into one of these stages.

  • Stage 0 (early stage). This means that DCIS, LCIS, or Paget's disease of the nipple has been found. There is no actual tumor, and there are no signs of disease spreading to lymph nodes or tissue beyond the breast. With LCIS, you are at increased risk for breast cancer, but no cancer is actually present.
  • Stage IA (early stage). No cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes or distant sites, and the tumor is no more than two centimeters (less than one inch) across.
  • Stage IB (early stage). Tiny amounts of cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes but not in distant sites, and the tumor is no more than two centimeters (less than one inch) across.
  • Stage IIA. These are cancers in which there is either no tumor or a tumor is less than two centimeters across, but cancer cells are in your lymph nodes. These are also cancers between two and five centimeters that have no lymph node involvement. The cancer has not spread to distant sites.
  • Stage IIB. Two to five centimeters across, these cancers have spread to lymph nodes. Or the tumor is more than five centimeters (two inches) across, but it has not spread to the lymph nodes or to the chest wall or skin. The cancer has not spread to distant sites.
  • Stage IIIA (advanced stage). This stage is also called locally advanced cancer. The tumor is not more than five centimeters (two inches) across, and the cancer in your underarm lymph nodes is extensive, or it has spread to other lymph nodes. Or the tumor is more than five centimeters (two inches) across, and it has spread to other lymph node areas but not to the chest wall or skin. The cancer has not spread to distant sites.
  • Stage IIIB. This stage includes those cancers that have spread to the chest wall or skin and maybe to nearby lymph nodes. Inflammatory breast cancer is a type of locally advanced breast cancer in this stage unless it has spread to distant lymph nodes or organs.
  • Stage IIIC. This stage includes tumors of any size and cancer in many different lymph nodes but not in distant sites.