Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Stages / Staging
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Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Staging
Once a non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) diagnosis is confirmed, the staging process begins. More testing may be required to assess the size and extent of the cancer. Clinical NSCLC staging is based on the results from imaging tests, the physical exam and tissue samples (biopsies). Pathological staging also includes the same information from the clinical staging process, with the consideration of the pathology report (from surgery).
Understanding the TNM System
The most common NSCLC staging method is the TNM system, accepted by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) and the International Union Against Cancer (UICC). Non-small cell lung cancer stages are defined by three key components:
- Tumor - The tumors are rated on a scale of 0-4 where T0 indicates no evidence of the primary tumor expanding into local tissue, and the increasing numbers (T1-T4) correspond to the increasing size/extent of the tumor.
- Node - The spread of the cancer to the lymph nodes is rated on a scale of 0-4. If the cancer has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes, N0 is used.
- Metastasized - The metastases (spread) is labeled as either M0 (no sign of metastases) or M1 (the cancer has spread).
Each category (T, N and M) is assessed and rated. An X is used to denote insufficient information (the condition of the particular factor cannot be adequately assessed).
Specific Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Stages
Non-small cell lung cancer is broken down into the following four stages:
- Stage I Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Cancer may be present in the underlying lung tissues, but the lymph nodes remain unaffected.
- Stage II Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: The cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes or into the chest wall.
- Stage III Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: The cancer is continuing to spread from the lungs to the lymph nodes or to nearby structures and organs such as the heart, trachea and esophagus.
- Stage IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: The cancer has metastasized throughout the body and may now affect the liver, bones or brain.
From the NSCLC staging process to your individualized treatment plan, at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), you will have a dedicated team of cancer experts empowering you throughout the entire process. At CTCA, we believe in patient-centered non-small cell lung cancer treatment.
When you're ready to learn more, call 1-800-615-3055 or Chat Now to talk with one of our Oncology Information Specialists. Our representatives are available 24 hours a day, every day of the week. We're ready to help, at any stage.
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