Understanding the stages of breast cancer

When women in New Jersey are diagnosed with breast cancer, timing can make all the difference in the outcomes they receive. People with earlier diagnoses are far more likely to survive their cancer with fewer long-term effects. Some people receive a delayed diagnosis because their doctor failed to diagnose their cancer, despite signs and symptoms that could have led them to start treatment far earlier.

People with stage 1A breast cancer have small tumors that are invasive but have not yet spread to the lymph nodes; that spreading has happened by the time that a stage 1B breast cancer is diagnosed. A diagnosis of cancer at this early stage is more likely to have positive outcomes, and many women report symptoms that go unnoticed or misdiagnosed by their doctors. These tumors can be less than 20 millimeters in size. By stage 2A, the cancer may have spread to one to three lymph nodes or can be up to 50 millimeters in size if it is contained within the breast.

Stage 2B is more severe with the growth and spreading involved. By stage 3A, breast cancer may have spread to more lymph nodes or grown larger within the breast, and at stage 3B, the tumor could spread to the chest wall, cause swelling or spark ulceration. At state 3C, the tumor could spread to up to 10 lymph nodes near the breasts. Stage 4 breast cancer is also known as metastatic cancer and is the most difficult to treat, having spread to other organs.

In around 6% of cases, people are diagnosed for the first time with metastatic cancer. Some of these cases are related to earlier failure to diagnose. People who have suffered a worsened condition due to a doctor error may consult with a medical malpractice attorney about their options to seek justice.