Staging helps describe where a cancer is located, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting the other parts of the body. Doctors often use tests to determine a cancer’s stage. Staging may not be complete until all of the tests are finished. Knowing the stage helps the doctor:
- Plan treatment, including the type of surgery and whether chemotherapy or radiation therapy are needed
- Predict the chance that the cancer will come back after the original treatment
- Predict the chance of recovery
- Talk about the diagnosis in a clear, common language with the entire health care team
- Determine treatment effectiveness, and
- Compare larger populations with the same diagnosis to research new, more effective cancer treatments.
Cancer stage grouping
- Stage 0: This stage describes cancer in situ, which means “in place.” Stage 0 cancers are still located in the place they started and have not spread to nearby tissues. This stage of cancer is often highly curable, usually by removing the entire tumor with surgery.
- Stage I: This stage is usually a small cancer or tumor that has not grown deeply into nearby tissues. It also has not spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. It is often called early-stage cancer.
- Stage II and III: These stages indicate larger cancers or tumors that have grown more deeply into nearby tissue. They may have also spread to lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body.
- Stage IV: This stage means that the cancer has spread to other organs or parts of the body. It may also be called advanced or metastatic cancer.