Cancer stages

Stage 2 cancer

Stage 2 cancer refers to larger tumors or cancers that have grown more deeply into nearby tissue. In this stage, the cancer may have spread to the lymph nodes, but not to other parts of the body. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our cancer experts recognize that stage 2 cancer is a complex disease. We use a variety of sophisticated tests and procedures to measure the stage of the disease, and to design a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your diagnosis and individual needs.

At CTCA®, our team of experts work together to coordinate your care, discussing your options with you and answering your questions. Chat with us anytime, 24/7, to set up an appointment.

What is stage 2 cancer?

Stage 2 cancers are typically larger than stage 1 cancers and/or have spread to nearby lymph nodes. Like stage 1 cancers, stage 2 cancers are typically treated with local therapies such as surgery or radiation therapy.

Stage 2 cancer is determined in the five most common cancers in the following way:

Stage 2 breast cancer

The tumor measures between 2 cm and 5 cm, or the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm on the same side as the breast cancer. The cancer cells have spread beyond the original location and into the surrounding breast tissue, and a tumor may be detected during a breast self-exam as a hard lump.

Learn more about breast cancer stages

Stage 2 lung cancer

In non-small cell lung cancers, which account for more than 80 percent of lung cancer diagnoses, stage 2 means the cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes or into the chest wall.

Learn more about lung cancer stages

Stage 2 prostate cancer

Cancer may be detected during a digital rectal exam. The disease is still confined to the prostate, but the cells may be abnormal and may grow faster.

Learn more about prostate cancer stages

Stage 2 colorectal cancer

Cancer has grown through the outermost layer of the colon or rectum and may have grown through it and into nearby organs or tissues. It has not spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs.

Learn more about colorectal cancer stages

Stage 2 melanoma

The cancer cells have grown more deeply into the skin or have more high-risk features, but they have not spread to the lymph nodes.

Learn more about melanoma stages

Staging cancer determines how much it has progressed and where it’s located. In most cases, cancer is staged using some form of the TNM system, which stands for:

  • T (tumor), or the size of the original tumor
  • N (node), or whether the cancer is present in the lymph nodes
  • M (metastasis), or whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body

Some cancers, such as blood cancers, and brain and spinal cord tumors, use different staging systems. For instance, brain cancer is usually graded rather than staged, based on factors including:

  • The size and location of the tumor
  • The type of tissues or cells affected
  • The likelihood that part or all the tumor can be removed with surgery 
  • The spread of the cancer
  • The possibility the cancer has spread beyond the brain or central nervous system

In grade 2 brain cancer, the tumor grows slowly but may spread into nearby tissues or recur.