Staging of inflammatory breast cancer
The staging of a cancer is a method used to assess the severity of the disease and the potential danger it poses. It depends on the size of the tumor, whether or not it has spread to the regional lymph nodes, and if it has spread to other parts of the body. The well-known term “Stage four cancer” refers to a malignancy that has spread to one or more body sites other than its primary place of origin. Cancer stages are usually divided into stage I, II, III, and IV. In between the main stages, there are smaller, more detailed stages like 1B or IIIC.
Inflammatory breast cancer does not only affect the breast tissue, but also invades the skin. For this reason, the first rung in inflammatory breast cancer staging is not stage I but stage IIIB. This is one of the reasons why inflammatory breast cancer often has a less promising prognosis than conventional breast cancer.
If the lymph nodes present around the collarbone (clavicle) or those in the chest are also affected by the breast cancer cells, it is a stage IIIC breast cancer. And as noted above, any breast cancer of any size that has metastasized beyond its original location is termed a stage IV cancer.