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NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

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stage IIIA breast cancer  listen  (... brest KAN-ser)

  Stage III is divided into stages IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC. In stage IIIA, (1) no tumor is found in the breast or the tumor may be any size. Cancer is found in 4 to 9 axillary lymph nodes or in the lymph nodes near the breastbone (found during imaging tests or a physical exam); or (2) the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters. Small clusters of breast cancer cells (larger than 0.2 millimeter but not larger than 2 millimeters) are found in the lymph nodes; or (3) the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters. Cancer has spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes or to the lymph nodes near the breastbone (found during a sentinel lymph node biopsy).

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Stage IIIA breast cancer. The drawing on the left shows no tumor in the breast; cancer is found in 8 axillary lymph nodes. The drawing in the middle shows the tumor is larger than 5 cm and small clusters of cancer cells are in the lymph nodes. The drawing on the right shows the tumor is larger than 5 cm and cancer is in 3 axillary lymph nodes.