Knowing the breast cancer stage and grade will help your treatment team decide what treatment options are best for you.

What are the stages of breast cancer?

The breast cancer stage tells you the cancer's size and whether it has spread to other parts of your body.

Based on your test results, the treatment team will give the cancer a stage between 0 to 4.

In general, the higher the number, the more the breast cancer has spread in your body.

Stage Definition  
Stage 0 Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) A non-invasive pre-cancerous change
Stage 1 The cancer is only found in your breast with no or only microscopic involvement of lymph nodes in your armpit. Early breast cancer
Stage 2 The cancer is larger than in stage 1 and/or is found in just a few nearby lymph nodes. Early breast cancer
Stage 3 The cancer is larger than in stage 2, or involves the skin of the breast or the chest wall, or is a type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer, and/or has spread from the breast to more than just a few lymph nodes close to the breast.  Locally advanced breast cancer
Stage 4 The cancer has spread to other parts of your body. Advanced breast cancer

What are the grades of breast cancer?

The grade of the cancer describes what the cancer cells look like compared to normal cells.

This tells the treatment team how quickly the cancer is growing and the risk that it may spread to other parts of your body.


Grade Definition

 Grade 1 

(Low grade)

Usually slow-growing, the cancer cells and structures look more like normal breast

 Grade 2

(Intermediate grade)

Intermediate growth rate, the cancer has fewer features of normal breast tissue

Grade 3

(High grade)

fast-growing the cancer cells look very different from normal breast cells

Prognosis for breast cancer

The prognosis is the likely outcome of a disease. 

If the test results show breast cancer, you may wish to speak with your treatment team about the prognosis.

The doctors will look at the type and stage of the cancer as well as your age and general health to give a prognosis, but no doctor can predict the exact outcome for you. 

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Last updated: April 7, 2021