Stages and Grades of Inflammatory Breast cancer

Executive Summary

The staging system of inflammatory breast cancer depends upon the size of the tumor, its metastasis to lymph nodes and other body parts, and its biomarkers. The stages of inflammatory breast cancer determine the extent of the disease condition that has affected the patients. The location or suspect area of cancer growth is evaluated by assessing the stage of the disease. The TNM staging system is used for determining the stages of inflammatory breast cancer. Other factors such as tumor grade and ER/PR and HER2 testing results determine the stage and your prognosis. Inflammatory breast cancer is usually considered stage IIIB breast cancer when first diagnosed. It may be diagnosed as stage IV if it has spread outside the breast and lymph nodes. Stage IIIB, IIIC, IV, and recurrent stage are the major stages of inflammatory breast cancer.

Staging System of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Staging is the procedure of determining where the tumor is located, whether it has spread or not, and how it grows. While assessing the Stages of Inflammatory Breast cancer, many factors are taken into account.

Doctors use diagnostic tests to discover cancer’s stage, so staging may not be complete until all tests are finished. 

TNM staging system

The most generally used tool that doctors use to describe the stage is the TNM system. 

  • T is for tumor – How large the tumor is and where is its location
  • N is for nodes – Has cancer spread to lymph nodes, and if so, where and how many?
  • M is for metastasis – Whether cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body? If so, then how much?

The results are combined to find the stages of Inflammatory Breast cancer for each person. The stage provides a standard way of describing cancer so doctors can work together for the best treatments.

Staging can be pathological or clinical. The pathological stage is centered on the pathology results from the breast tissue and any lymph nodes removed in the surgery. The results are available several days after surgery. Clinical staging depends on the results of tests done before surgery, including a physical examination, mammogram, ultrasound, and MRI scans. In general, greater importance is placed on the pathological stage than the clinical stage.

Cancer stage grouping

Doctors assign the Stages of Inflammatory Breast cancer by the T, N, and M classifications. They also use other factors, such as tumor grade and ER/PR and HER2 testing results, to determine the stage and prognosis.

Inflammatory breast cancer is usually considered stage IIIB breast cancer when first diagnosed. It may be diagnosed as stage IV if it has spread outside the breast and lymph nodes.

Stage IIIB – The inflammatory breast cancer may or may not have spread to the axillary or internal mammary lymph nodes. It has not spread to other body parts (T4; N0, N1 or N2; M0) ​1​.

Stage IIIC – The inflammatory breast cancer has spread to 10 or more axillary lymph nodes, the internal mammary lymph nodes, or the lymph nodes located under the collarbone. It has not spread to parts of the body (any T, N3, M0).

Stage IV (metastatic) – The inflammatory breast cancer has spread to other organs, like the lungs, bones, liver, brain, distant lymph nodes, or chest wall (any T, any N, M1) ​2​

Recurrent –  Recurrent cancer is cancer that has come back after treatment. A breast cancer recurrence can be either local, distant, or both. If cancer does return, the doctor performs another round of tests to know the extent of the recurrence. These tests resemble those done initially at the time of diagnosis.

References

  1. 1.
    van G, Davies S, Wu Z, et al. A novel putative low-affinity insulin-like growth factor-binding protein, LIBC (lost in inflammatory breast cancer), and RhoC GTPase correlate with the inflammatory breast cancer phenotype. Clin Cancer Res. 1999;5(9):2511-2519. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10499627
  2. 2.