Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Stages

Invasive ductal carcinoma stages provide physicians with a uniform way to describe how far a patient’s cancer may have spread beyond its original location in a milk duct. This information can be helpful when evaluating treatment options, but it is not a prognostic indicator in and of itself. Many factors can influence a patient’s outcome, so the best source of information for understanding a breast cancer prognosis is always a physician who is familiar with the patient’s case.

In general, breast cancer stages are established based on three key variables: the size of a tumor, the extent of lymph node involvement and whether the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. This information may be obtained through a combination of clinical examinations, imaging studies, blood tests, lymph node removal and tissue samples (biopsies). If, based on the initial test results, a physician believes that the cancer may have spread to other parts of the body, further testing may be ordered, such as a bone scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan or liver function test.

Invasive ductal carcinoma is usually described through a numeric scale ranging from 1 (the earliest stage) to 4 (the most advanced stage). Specifically, the invasive ductal carcinoma stages are:

  • Stage 1 – A breast tumor is smaller than 2 centimeters in diameter and the cancer has not spread beyond the breast.
  • Stage 2 – A breast tumor measures 2 to 4 centimeters in diameter or cancerous cells have spread to the lymph nodes in the underarm area.
  • Stage 3 – More extensive cancer is found, but it is confined to the breast, surrounding tissues and lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4 – The breast cancer has metastasized to lymph nodes beyond the underarm area or to distant sites, such as the lungs, liver, bones or brain.

In the Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, our multispecialty tumor board reviews each patient’s breast cancer staging during a weekly meeting. This unique approach provides our patients with the benefit of highly individualized treatment based on multiple expert opinions in a single location, where we also offer comprehensive screening, diagnostic and supportive care services without the need for referrals.

If you’d like to learn more about invasive ductal carcinoma stages and treatment options, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.