What Does it Mean to Have a Particular Cancer Stage?
When a person is detected with cancer after initial physical examination followed by relevant tests, the next step is to discover the grade and stage of the cancer. The word stage denotes to step in a process (development). This mean cancer stage is a method to know the size of the tumour and if it is metastatic i.e. whether the cancerous tumour is in one place or it has spread around to other tissues/organs from the place where originated.
The stage of the cancer disease is very important for the doctors’ team to plan specific treatment option according to the individual medical case. It is helpful to confirm the stage of cancer so that medical team can find out how serious the cancer is and what is the best method to treat it.
Medical Condition of a person who is affected by the cancer disease is often referred by the stage diagnosed by the doctor initially or even when it has spread around.
Treating doctor analyse the stage and also the age and overall condition of the patient to decide on treatment option. It the tumour is localised, treatment through surgery or radiotherapy can cure the disease totally. A localised treatment treats only an area of the body.
How do cancer stage help in calculating prognosis?
Prognosis is relatively new term used recently in medical science for the expected pattern and outcome of a disease. It means the prediction of survival chances and the life time duration of a cancer patient whose condition is not curable. Prognosis is decided by the treating medical team which is completely based on different reliable tests used in confirming cancer stages. Therefore knowing stages in cancer disease plays an important role to decide prognosis.
The prognosis report of the cancer patient helps doctors to assess if a patient will benefit from a particular treatment option.
What is the popular system practised in the world that establish cancer stages?
Of late, different methods have been developed to establish cancer stages. The most clinically useful staging system is the tumor, node, and metastasis (TNM) staging system developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) in collaboration with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), herein referred to as the AJCC TNM staging system. This method is used for many cancer types but others are specific to a particular type of cancer.
The AJCC TNM system classifies cancers by the size and extent of the primary tumor (T), involvement of regional lymph nodes (N), and the presence or absence of distant metastases (M), supplemented in recent years by evidence-based prognostic and predictive factors.
Most staging systems include information about:
- tumor size
- tumor location in the body
- cell type (such as, adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma)
- If the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
- Whether the cancer has spread to a different part of the body
- Tumor grade, which refers to how abnormal the cancer cells look and how likely the tumor is to grow and spread.
How Cancer Stage is Determined?
The intensity of the cancer disease is broadly categorised through the numbers from 1 to 4. The range starts from stage 1 which indicates cancer is in one secluded place whereas stage 4 specify the most serious stage of the disease that means it has spread around to the organs also.
Hence the lower the number, the less the cancer has spread and higher number means cancer has spread more. And within a stage, an earlier letter means a lower stage. Although each person’s cancer experience is unique, cancers with similar stages tend to have a similar outlook and are often treated in much the same way.