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  • Once you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, its important to know how advanced the disease is. The process, referred to as staging, supplies information on if or how far the cancer has spread so you and your doctor can determine the best treatment option. Just as important to know is the difference between stages II and III.

    Significance

    Staging is based on how far its spread, the size of the tumor and if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and includes stage 0, I, II, III, and IV.

    Stage II

    With stage II breast cancer there are two subcategories: stage IIA and IIB.

    Features

    Stage IIA can involve no tumor in the breast, but cancer cells around the lymph nodes. Stage IIB consists of tumors between two and five centimeters.

    Stage III

    However, stage III breast cancer has three subcategories. Stage IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC are based on the size of the tumor and where it's located.

    Difference

    Another difference between stages II and III, according to BreastCancer.org, is that some stage III cancers are considered advanced or late stage. For example, with the stage IIIC the tumors of any size have spread to the lymph nodes, near the neck, and above or beneath the collarbone.

    Source:

    Mayo Clinic: Breast Cancer Staging

    Breastcancer.org: Stages of Breast Cancer

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