If a biopsy finds breast cancer, more tests are done on the tumor (and lymph nodes removed during surgery) to help determine your prognosis and guide your treatment. Some tests can be done on the small amount of tissue removed during a needle biopsy, while others need a larger amount of tissue removed during surgery.
Figure 4.3 lists the factors commonly assessed, plus some of those rarely assessed or still under study.
Which factors best determine prognosis and predict response to treatment is under constant study. Only after a great deal of research has shown a factor is accurate and reliable does it become a part of standard practice. These factors are considered in combination (rather than alone) to assess prognosis in the most complete way.
Factors that affect breast cancer staging
Three factors are used to classify the stage of your breast cancer.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is considered stage 0 (or non-invasive) breast cancer and has the best chance for survival. There are four main stages of invasive breast cancer (stages I-IV). Lower stages are related to a better prognosis.
Learn more about staging.