Explanation of Cancer Staging

Cancer staging divides cancer into several different periods depending on the extent to which the cancer occurs. In St. Stamford Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou, minimally invasive therapy is offered especially for middle and late-stage cancer patients. Cancer staging is critical for doctor to measure appropriate treatment for cancer patients and predict patient’s prognosis. Prof. Dai Wenyan, who has specialized in minimally invasive therapy for all kinds of cancer, gives a brief explanation of cancer staging.

Cancer, cancer staging, cancer treatment, St. Stamford Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou

Common systems that describe stage

TNM staging system

The TNM system is the most widely used cancer staging system. Most hospitals and medical centers use the TNM system as their main method for cancer reporting. You are likely to see your cancer described by this staging system in your pathology report.

In the TNM system:

Primary Tumor (T): "T" followed by a number from 0-4 tells you how large the tumor is and sometimes where it's located. T0 means there is no measureable tumor. The higher the number, the bigger the tumor;

Lymph Nodes (N): "N" followed by a number from 0-3 tells you if the cancer has spread to your lymph nodes. These are glands that filter things like viruses and bacteria before they can infect other parts of your body. N0 means lymph nodes aren't involved. A higher number means the cancer is in more lymph nodes, farther away from the original tumor;

Metastasis (M): "M" is followed by either 0 or 1. It says if the cancer has spread to organs and tissues in other parts of your body. A 0 means it hasn't, and a 1 means it has.

Number staging system

Number staging systems usually use the TNM system to divide cancers into stages. Most types of cancer have 5 stages, numbered from 0 to 4. Often doctors write the stage down in Roman numerals. So you may see stage 4 written down as stage IV. Here is a brief summary of what the stages mean for most types of cancer:

Stage 0:Abnormal cells are present but have not spread to nearby tissue. Also called carcinoma;

Stage 1 (I): The tumor is relatively small and contained within the organ it started in;

Stage 2 (II): The tumor is larger than in stage 1, but the cancer has not started to spread into the surrounding tissues. Sometimes stage 2 means that cancer cells have spread into lymph nodes close to the tumor. This depends on the particular type of cancer;

Stage 3 (III): The tumor is larger. It may have started to spread into surrounding tissues and there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes in the area;

Stage 4 (IV): The cancer has spread from where it started to another body organ. This is also called secondary or metastatic cancer.

Sometimes doctors use the letters A, B or C to further divide the number categories. For example, stage 3B cervical cancer.

Another staging system that is used for all types of cancer groups the 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.

If you have question about your medical report, please Consult Online, or call at 02-8-8221222 for professional medical advice.

*Surgery, in addition to the appropriate chemotherapy and radiotherapy, are effective in treating early cancer, but certain patients in late stage of cancer may not be tolerate surgery well as they can be relatively weak. A combination of carefully planned minimally invasive therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy can effectively reduce the side effects and discomfort of treatment and may help patient get better efficacy.

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