October 2020

Cancer Stage refers to the extent of your cancer, such as how large the tumor is, and if it has spread.

Cancer is always referred to by the stage it was given at diagnosis even if it gets worse or spreads.

New information about how cancer has changed over time gets added on to the original stage. So, the stage doesn’t change, even though cancer might.

Another cancer staging system that is used for all types of cancer groups cancer into one of five main categories. This staging system is more often used by cancer registries than by doctors.

But, you may still hear your doctor or nurse describe your cancer in one of the following ways:

• In situ – Abnormal cells are present but have not spread to nearby tissue.
• Localized – cancer is limited to the place where it started, with no sign that it has spread.
• Regional – cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, tissues, or organs.
• Distant – cancer has spread to distant parts of the body.
• Unknown – There is not enough information to figure out the stage.

How Stage Is Determined

To learn the stage of your disease, your doctor may order x-rays, lab tests, and other tests or procedures.

Systems that Describe Stage

There are many staging protocols. Some, such as the TNM staging system is used for many types of cancer.

Others are specific to a particular type of cancer.

Most staging systems include information about:

• Where the tumor is located in the body
• The cell type
• The size of the tumor
• Whether cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
• Whether cancer has spread to a different part of the body
• Tumor grade refers to how abnormal the cancer cells look and how likely the tumor is to grow and spread

TNM Staging (Tumor, Node, Metastasis)


* T1: Tumor invades submucosa
T2: Tumor invades muscularis propria (region of muscle in many organs in the vertebrate body, adjacent to the submucosa. It is responsible for gut movement such as peristalsis).
T3: Tumor invades through the muscularis propria into the pericolic (surrounding or encircling the colon) or perirectal tissues
T4: Tumor directly invades other organs or structures, and/or perforates


* N0: No regional lymph node metastasis
N1: Metastasis in 1 to 3 regional lymph nodes
N2: Metastasis in 4 or more regional lymph nodes


* M0: No distant metastasis
M1: Distant metastasis present




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