The subject of the intricacies of breast cancer stages is hardly a topic that any of us look forward to discussing or learning about. However, knowing the different breast cancer stages and a bit about the process of staging breast cancer can help you be prepared to understand the information your doctor gives you when you are diagnosed with breast cancer, and as you fight the battle against the disease.
Knowing the basic information about different breast cancer stages will help you have a common vocabulary with your doctor as you discuss the stage your breast cancer is in. If you are undergoing diagnostic testing for breast cancer, or if a loved one close to you is in the midst of that process, it will serve you well to do some preparatory research about the different breast cancer stages before you meet with a doctor to hear your diagnosis.
Many people feel overwhelmed by the massive amount of information that they receive when they are diagnosed with breast cancer. Because physicians are so busy, and their time is so valuable to so many patients, most doctors will tell you everything at once. It can be very difficult for you or your companions who are with you in the hospital to understand the vast flood of terminology that falls from the doctor's mouth.
Many of the best doctors in the world know a lot about breast cancer stages and the process of staging breast cancer, but very often these same doctors don't know how to talk to their patients. The more information about breast cancer stages you can digest before meeting with your doctor, the better prepared you will be to understand your situation and to ask all of the questions which will help you get the knowledge you need to take the best care of yourself in your unique circumstances.
Staging breast cancer is the terminology for the process that physicians use to gauge the size and placement of a patient's breast cancer. This vital assessment determines the entire course of treatment that follows, so a variety of tests are usually performed to make sure that all the signs point to the same stage for a correct diagnosis. These tests can range from an x-ray to a blood test to an MRI scan, and those are just the tip of the iceberg. This testing process can be a very grueling ordeal for a breast cancer patient, but staging breast cancer is one of the most important parts of fighting breast cancer.
Different breast cancer stages require different diagnostic methods, so a doctor will ask patients who display different symptoms to undergo different tests which will help the physicians determine which of the many breast cancer stages the patient is in. These tests will help the doctors place the cancer in categories that describe tumor size, palpable nodes, and metastasis when appropriate.
For example, the tumor is classed on size on a spectrum ranging from tx, which means tumor cannot be assessed, to t4, which means that the tumor has attached itself to the chest wall. These detailed breast cancer stages help doctors share a common language so that a team of physicians can work together to help a patient beat breast cancer in all breast cancer stages.