Stage 3 breast cancer And Its Treatment Options

What is stage 3 breast cancer?

Stage 3 breast cancer is a form of locally advanced breast cancer. When the cancer spreads significantly to the lymph nodes, it is referred to as stage 3 breast cancer. It still means that the cancer has not progressed to other organs. There are three sub-categories to this stage – namely 3A, 3B & 3C, based on the size of the tumor and the extent of lymph node involvement.

Doctors examining x-ray

If one or more of the following conditions are met, then the cancer is further sub-categorized as stage 3A:

  • No tumor plus 4 to 9 cancerous lymph nodes
  • A tumor of any size + 4 to 9 cancerous lymph nodes
  • A tumor larger than 5 centimeters + small clusters of breast cancer cells in the lymph nodes
  • A tumor larger than 5 centimeters + 1 to 3 cancerous lymph nodes near the breast bone

If one or more of the following conditions are met, then the cancer is further sub-categorized as stage 3B:

  • The cancer must have extended to the chest wall
  • The cancer may have skin involvement of the breast
  • Visible swelling around breasts
  • 0 to 9 Cancerous lymph nodes involvement along with any of the above.

If one or more of the following conditions are met, then the cancer is further sub-categorized as stage 3C:

  • No tumor/tumor of any size + 10 or more cancerous lymph nodes near the collarbone
  • No tumor/tumor of any size + cancerous lymph nodes in the neck above collar bone on same side.

Treatment for stage 3 breast cancer (see full article for early breast cancer treatment)

For some cases of stage 3 breast cancer, the first line of treatment is surgery (mastectomy/lumpectomy) followed by radiation, chemotherapy, and lymph node removal. Hormone therapies and targeted therapies may also be needed post surgery depending upon ER/ PR, HER-2neu status.

In a different treatment approach, depending on the state of the disease, sometimes patients first undergo chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor, followed by surgery (mastectomy) and then radiation. Hormone therapies and targeted therapies may also be needed depending upon ER/ PR, HER-2neu status.

See also:

Stage 0 breast cancer
Stage 1 breast cancer
Stage 2 breast cancer
Stage 4 breast cancer

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