Advanced Techniques for Staging Breast Cancer
Once breast cancer is diagnosed, it will be important to determine the stage (extent to which the cancer has spread from the original tumor site) of the cancer. Cancer staging is an important component to consider when treatment decisions are made.
The TNM staging system, developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer, is most frequently used for cancer staging. This staging system classifies cancers based on their T, N, and M stages:
- T stands for tumor (its size and how far it has spread within the breast and to nearby organs).
- N stands for spread to lymph nodes (bean-shaped collections of immune system cells that help fight infections and cancers).
- M is for metastasis (spread to distant organs)(American Cancer Society).
Various tests may be utilized after the diagnosis of breast cancer to determine the stage of cancer. The type of tests used will be based on the extent of the cancer, and on the results of the history and physical examination (National Comprehensive Cancer Network).
The UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute offers advanced techniques to determine the stage of the cancer once a diagnosis of breast cancer has been made. These include:
- Bone Scan
- CT Scan – Computed Tomography
- MRI – Magnetic Resonce Imaging
- PET Scan – Positron Emmission Tomography
- Biopsy Tissue Results (Laboratory tests that determine the characteristics of the tumor)
- Estrogen Receptor
- Progesterone Recptor
- Sentinel Node Biopsy
- Axillary Node Biopsy (if Sentinel Node Biopsy is positive)
- Axillary Reverse Mapping (ARM)
- Oncotype DX