Understanding stage 0 breast cancer

(WebMD) — So the doctor says you have stage 0 breast cancer, and now you have lots of questions. What does that mean? Is it even really cancer?

The truth is, doctors aren’t entirely sure either. Some experts consider it the earliest stage of breast cancer. Others think of it as a sort of precancer stage.

Cancer is defined as a group of diseases with abnormal cells that divide without control. Those cells can also invade nearby tissues. Stage 0 breast cancer is not invasive, though it could be later. It’s less advanced than stage I cancer.

There are two types of stage 0 breast cancer:

  • Noninvasive Paget’s disease, a rare form of breast cancer in the nipple
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). This is what most people mean when they talk about stage 0 breast cancer. The abnormal cells are still in your milk ducts and haven’t affected the fatty tissue that makes up most of your breast. There’s no known cause, and most people don’t have any symptoms, though you may notice a lump or bloody discharge from your nipple. The abnormal cells may or may not become invasive and start to spread. There’s no way to predict if this will happen. (…)
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