Stage IIA & IIB Treatment Options

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Stage II is divided into subcategories known as IIA and IIB. 

In general, stage IIA describes invasive breast cancer in which:

  • no tumor can be found in the breast, but cancer (larger than 2 millimeters [mm]) is found in 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes (the lymph nodes under the arm) or in the lymph nodes near the breast bone (found during a sentinel node biopsy) or
  • the tumor measures 2 centimeters (cm) or smaller and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes or
  • the tumor is larger than 2 cm but not larger than 5 cm and has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes

Still, if the cancer tumor measures between 2 and 5 cm and:

it will likely be classified as stage IB.

Similarly, if the cancer tumor measures between 2 and 5 cm and:

it will likely be classified as stage IA.

In general, stage IIB describes invasive breast cancer in which:

  • the tumor is larger than 2 cm but no larger than 5 cm; small groups of breast cancer cells — larger than 0.2 mm but not larger than 2 mm — are found in the lymph nodes or
  • the tumor is larger than 2 cm but no larger than 5 cm; cancer has spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes or to lymph nodes near the breastbone (found during a sentinel node biopsy) or
  • the tumor is larger than 5 cm but has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes

Still, if the cancer tumor measures between 2 and 5 cm and:

it will likely be classified as stage IB.

Treatment to the breast

  • total mastectomy; radiation after mastectomy may be needed or
  • lumpectomy plus radiation, in some cases following chemotherapy to shrink a large single cancer

Treatment to the lymph nodes

  • sentinel lymph node biopsy, also known as sentinel lymph node dissection (preferred approach) or
  • axillary lymph node biopsy

and

  • possible radiation to supraclavicular and/or internal mammary lymph nodes

Chemotherapy

  • chemotherapy is commonly recommended

Hormonal therapy

  • hormonal therapy is prescribed for people with hormone-receptor-positive cancer

Targeted therapy

  • targeted therapy may be used to treat cancers that have certain characteristics (for example, cancers that are HER2-positive)

Treatment to other parts of the body

  • does not apply

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