Stages of Male Breast Cancer

The type of treatment a patient needs is determined by the stage of cancer, which is also called TNM or Tumor, node, metastasis. Various factors are taken into account to calculate the stage.

  • The tumor size (T)
  • The spread of cancer to the axillary lymph nodes and the number of lymph nodes involved if any (N)
  • Spread of cancer to lymph nodes of other body areas (M)

Chest X-ray, blood tests, and other techniques might be used to determine the extent of spread of cancer. At times, bone scan, CT scan, PET scan, or an MRI might be needed to gauge how far cancer has spread.

Numbering is also used for staging breast cancer, depending on the size of the tumor and its spread. 

Stage 0

This is the stage of ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS. In this stage, the cells remain contained within the duct, not invading into the surrounding area. A rare type of nipple cancer in men, Paget disease, is stage 0 as well if no underlying tumor mass is present.

Stage I

This stage includes a tumor measuring 2cm or less in size and not spreading to lymph nodes. If the tumor has spread to the lymph node, it should be microscopic, that is, less than 2mm for the tumor to be considered in this stage.

Stage II

This stage contains a tumor measuring between 2 and 5cm or a tumor that has spread to a few axillary lymph nodes. 

Stage III

Tumor in this stage has spread to axillary lymph nodes or lymph nodes of other areas like above the collarbone. It might have spread into the chest wall as well.

Stage IV

This stage of cancer can include a tumor of any size. Cancer might have spread to nearby lymph nodes. This stage implies that cancer has spread to distant organs like bones, liver, lungs, or brain or lymph nodes to areas far from the breast.