The most recent AJCC system, effective January 2018, has both clinical and pathologic staging systems for breast cancer. The pathologic stage (also called the surgical stage) is determined by examining tissue removed during an operation. Sometimes, if surgery is not possible right away or at all, the cancer will be given a clinical stage instead. This is based on the results of a physical exam, Last Revised: December 20, 2017. Clinical Staging of Breast Cancer The determination of whether your cancer is invasive or noninvasive (in situ), the information gathered from your medical history and physical examination, as well as an evaluation of your initial breast imaging (mammogram, ultrasound, and or breast MRI) are all considered when identifying your breast cancer’s clinical stage.
The stages of breast cancer are indicated using Roman numerals ranging from 0 to IV, with 0 indicating cancer that is noninvasive or contained within the milk ducts. Greater numerals indicate a more invasive cancer. By stage IV breast cancer, also called metastatic breast cancer, the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Financial support for AJCC 7th Edition Staging Posters provided by the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Staging >20–50 mm >50 mm Direct extension to chest wall not including pectoralis muscle.
The breast cancer TNM staging system is the most common way that doctors stage breast cancer. TNM stands for Tumour, Node, Metastasis. Your scans and tests give some information about the stage of your cancer. But your doctor might not be able to tell you the exact stage until you have surgery.