Breast Cancer Review

Stage III Breast Cancer

The method used in the medical field to set a standardized level of a woman’s breast cancer is called “staging.” These stages (rated Stage 0, Stage I, Stage II, Stage III, Stage IV) are utilized so there can be a universal yardstick for delivering information about a woman’s degree of cancer involvement; this helps greatly in discussions among medical personnel when needing to relay facts about her condition and treatment; and it also helps the patient and her family.

Before a discussion of Stage 3 breast cancer (Stage III), it is worthwhile to summarize the first three stages. Stage 0 means the cancer is small and has not spread. Stage I means the tumor is 2 cm. or less in diameter and has not spread to lymph nodes or another part of the body. Stage II is a tumor that is either 2 to 5 cm. in diameter and has spread into one to three lymph nodes or more than 5 cm. but has not spread into lymph nodes; also in this stage, the tumor has not spread to another part of the body.

Stage 3 breast cancer (Stage III) is divided into three levels: Stage IIIA, Stage IIIB and Stage IIIC. In a discussion of Stage 3 breast cancer (Stage III), one important fact to establish at the start is -- this stage exhibits no spread of the cancer to a distant part of the body (a metastasis). Also, a woman diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, and with no metastasis, is rated Stage III.

Stage IIIA denotes a tumor which is five cm. or smaller (T0-2) and has spread to four to nine axillary lymph nodes or internal mammary nodes (N2); or a tumor is five cm. and larger (T3) and has spread into one to nine axillary or internal mammary nodes (N1or N2).

Stage IIIB is a tumor that has enlarged (T4) into surrounding tissues, like the chest wall or skin. It has either not spread into lymph nodes (N0) or has spread into one to nine axillary or internal mammary lymph nodes (N1 or N2).

Stage IIIC, the tumor can be of any size (T0-4). Here, the distinctions deal with the spread of the cancer into the lymph nodes. The cancer may have spread into ten or more axillary lymph nodes; it may be in one or more infraclavicular, supraclavicular, or internal mammary lymph nodes (N3). All involved lymph nodes are on the same side of the body as the cancerous breast tumor. Again, it is important to note that no cancer is detected in a distant part of the body in Stage 3 breast cancer (Stage III).

Breast Cancer Resources

American Cancer Society

People Living With Cancer

United States National Library of Medicine

National Breast Cancer Foundation

Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

Health Coverage from Health Insurance .org

WebMD Health

Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation

National Cancer Institute

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Y-ME National Breast Cancer Foundation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Women’s Information Network Against Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

Cancer News On the Net

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition

Mothers Supporting Daughters With Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Online

National Breast Cancer Coalition

Breast Cancer Fund

Breast Cancer Action

Breast Cancer Care

Breast Cancer Campaign

Cancer BACUP

Canadian Breast Cancer Network

Breast Cancer Society of Canada

Breast Cancer Action – Ottawa

Info Breast Cancer

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

National Breast Cancer Centre

National Breast Cancer Foundation

New South Wales Breast Cancer Institute

Early Warning Signs
Breast Tumor Information
Self-Exams & Diagnosis
Stage 3 Breast Cancer
Stage 4 Breast Cancer
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