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Medical Care

Patients & Visitors

About Holy Name Medical Center About Holy Name Medical Center

Key Phone Numbers

  • Medical Center Operator

  • 201-833-3000

  • Physician Referral Service

  • 877-HOLY-NAME (465-9626)

  • Patient Information

  • 201-833-3300

  • Foundation (Donations)

  • 201-833-3187

  • Human Resources

  • 201-833-7040

  • Medical Staff Office

  • 201-833-3352

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Stages of Breast Cancer

Staging the disease means finding out how far, if at all, the cancer has spread. Staging, which is done for every type of breast cancer, helps to create a personal treatment plan for each patient. The stage of a breast cancer is usually determined after surgery, when the tumor and lymph nodes*, if necessary, are examined. Stages are classified based on the size of the largest tumor, lymph node involvement and whether other organs are affected.

Stage 0 - This is noninvasive breast cancer, or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Cancer cells are limited to the lining of the ducts and have not spread beyond the ducts.

Stage 1 - Considered invasive breast cancer, the tumor is no larger than 2 centimeters, but some cancer cells have spread from the ducts or lobules into nearby fatty tissue of the breast. Lymph nodes have not been affected.

Stage 2 - Invasive breast cancer with a tumor between 2 and 5 centimeters, or a smaller tumor with cancer cells that have spread to the lymph nodes.

Stage 3 - This stage has three subsets, which differ based on the number of lymph nodes affected and the size of the tumor. Invasive breast cancer may have spread to the chest wall or skin of the breast.

Stage 4 - Invasive breast cancer has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body, usually organs such as lungs, brain, liver, skin, or bones and distant lymph nodes. Inflammatory breast cancer is classified as Stage 4 breast cancer.

* Lymph nodes collect and filter cells from fluids before returning the fluid to the bloodstream. When breast cancer has been diagnosed, lymph nodes are tested to determine whether cancer cells have spread to the nodes.

  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy - The sentinel lymph nodes are the first ones where breast cancer spreads. They are removed during surgery to see whether they contain cancer cells.

  • Axillary Node Dissection - Axillary nodes are located in the armpit and are removed if oncologists believe the cancer has spread.