TNM system for esophageal cancer
Making an educated treatment decision begins with the stage, or progression, of the disease. The stage of esophageal cancer is one of the most important factors in evaluating treatment options.
Our cancer doctors use a variety of diagnostic tests to evaluate esophageal cancer and develop an individualized treatment plan. If you have been recently diagnosed, we will review your pathology to confirm you have received the correct diagnosis and staging information, and develop a personalized treatment plan. If you have a recurrence, we will perform comprehensive testing and identify a treatment approach that is suited to your needs.
It’s also important to understand that the stage of your cancer may change. Your care team will let you know if your staging information is affected by the progression, or regression, of your disease.
The stages of esophageal cancer are assigned based on The American Joint Committee on Cancer’s (AJCC) TNM system, a commonly accepted method based on three key components:
- Tumor (T) describes the size of the original tumor.
- Node (N) indicates whether the cancer is present in the lymph nodes.
- Metastasis (M) refers to whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
A number (0-4) or the letter X is assigned to each factor. In esophageal cancer staging, as in all cancer staging, a higher number indicates increasing severity. For instance, a T1 score indicates a smaller tumor than a T2 score. The letter X means the information could not be assessed.
Once the T, N and M scores have been assigned, an overall stage is assigned.