Breast cancer is a complex disease that’s different for every woman. Before you start a treatment, your doctor will want to know the size of the tumor and how far it has spread in your body, called the stage of the cancer. There are five basic stages, 0 through IV, and a number of sub-stages.
Staging is a way for doctors to describe your condition. It doesn't tell the whole story, though. Your doctor will think about many things before she recommends treatments for you, including:
Chemotherapy and radiation destroy breast cancer cells. But these treatments can also affect healthy cells and can change how you feel. They might cause:
Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
Weakness and fatigue
A higher risk of infections
Medications and other therapies can help ease many of these side effects.