Carolinas HealthCare System
Cancer Care
Cancer Care Locations


The expert team of physicians at Levine Cancer Institute will discuss your stage of cancer with you during your visit. Staging usually requires the results of a surgical pathology report and may not be able to be determined during your initial consultation.

  • Stage 0: Breast cancer that is noninvasive, localized to the milk ducts or lobules.
  • Stage I: Invasive breast cancer that is smaller than 2 cm and has not spread throughout the body. There may be very small tumors in the lymph nodes.
  • Stage II: The tumor is 2.1 cm to 5 cm in size, there are more cells in the lymph nodes, or both. The cancer has not metastasized. There may not be a primary tumor in the breast but the presence of tumors in one to three lymph nodes. A tumor that is greater than 5 cm, but without cancer cells in the lymph nodes, is also Stage II.
  • Stage III: The tumor is larger than 5 cm and cancer is also in the lymph nodes under the arm. In Stage III there may be a smaller tumor, or no primary tumor in the breast, but cancer is found in four to nine lymph nodes. This stage would also include tumors that have grown into the chest wall or skin but may or may not have cancer in the lymph nodes, or any size tumor with ten or more lymph nodes that were found to have cancer in them. Inflammatory breast cancer is always Stage III unless it has metastasized.
  • Stage IV: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as the bones, lung, liver or brain.


Breast cancer stages

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