There are more than 200 different types of cancers out there. A cancer is a group of malignant cells in the body that grows uncontrollably. So, one should be able to easily understand that a cancer or a group of cancerous cells with go through many different stages of growth. These many stages of cancer growth are medically known as cancer staging. This article will provide more information about cancer staging and it will talk about how cancer staging affect the prognosis for a cancer patient.
What are the different phases in cancer staging?
All cancers will usually go through the following growth phases. The different cancer staging phases are stage 1, stage 2, stage 3 and stage 4. Some cancers will have certain subtypes in the cancer staging. For example, some cancers might have a stage 1a and 1b or a stage 2a and 2b. The cancer staging phases for each type of cancer can be found at the website of the National Cancer Institute, at cancer.gov.
What do the different phases in cancer staging mean?
The different stages in cancer staging will classify the growth of the cancer with the help of the following three parameters. The cancer staging phase will be determined by a system called the TNM system, with the TNM staging for tumor, node and metastasis. The following sections will go into more detail about these three different staging parameters.
Cancer Staging TNM
Cancer staging – Tumor (T)
This parameter used to classify the cancer staging will use the size of the tumor to classify the cancer staging. Various cancers will have different size tumors that will help doctors identify the staging. Obviously, stage 1 and stage 2 cancer tumors will be smaller than stage 3 and stage 4 cancers.
Cancer staging – Nodes (N)
Every organ in the human body is surrounded by lymph nodes. When the cancer tries to spread to other parts of the body, it will first try to spread to the nearby lymph nodes. The cancer staging will depend on the extent to which the lymph nodes are affected. The staging based on this factor will depend on the type of cancer and the type of organs that are affected by the cancer. It would be very difficult for an article of this size to even outline the various staging phases, as classified by the amount and intensity of affected lymph nodes.
Cancer staging – Metastasis (M)
This factor is usually used to classify very aggressive cancers that have managed to spread to other organs in the body. It is possible for a cancer in the breasts to spread to the liver and even the brain. Thus, when metastasis is being considered in the staging of a particular cancer, one can assume that it has already spread to other organs in the body.
Prognosis based on staging
The prognosis for the different stages in cancer growth will vary by cancer type, time of diagnosis and quality of treatment. Generally, patients will have a poor prognosis when the cancer has metastasized in the body. For example, patients suffering from a stage IV breast cancer will usually only have a 20% chance of survival beyond a period of five years while the survival rate is almost 100% for a breast cancer patient who is diagnosed with a stage 1 breast cancer.