Stage 3 cancer is sometimes referred to as locally advanced cancer. In this stage, the tumor may have grown to a specific size, the cancer may consist of multiple tumors, and/or the cancer may have spread to adjacent lymph nodes, organs or tissue. In some cases, stage 3 cancers may be considered metastatic cancers, meaning they may have spread beyond their organ of origin.
Many stage 3 cancers have multiple subcategories, usually designated as stages 3A, 3B and 3C. These subcategories are often determined by the size of the tumors, whether multiple tumors are present and the degree to which the cancer has spread locally.
Liquid cancers, or blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma or multiple myeloma, are staged differently than most other cancers because they may not always form solid tumors. Liquid cancers may be staged by a variety of factors, including:
- The ratio of healthy blood cells to cancerous cells
- Whether cancer cells are found in lymph nodes or the diaphragm
- The degree to which lymph nodes, the liver or spleen may be swollen
Stage 3 cancer is determined in the five most common cancers this way:
Stage 3 breast cancer
The tumor may also be quite large at this stage, possibly extending to the chest wall and/or the skin of the breast. Cancer cells may be found in nearby lymph nodes.