Cancer staging is the process of determining how much cancer is in the body and where it is located. Staging describes the severity of an individual's cancer based on the magnitude of the original (primary) tumor as well as on the extent cancer has spread in the body. Understanding the stage of the cancer helps doctors to develop a prognosis and design a treatment plan for individual patients.
Staging provides a common language for doctors to effectively communicate about a patient’s cancer and collaborate on the best courses of treatment.
Understanding the cancer’s stage is also critical to identifying clinical trials that may be appropriate for particular patients.
What are the Different Types of Staging?
There are four different types of staging:
Clinical Staging determines how much cancer there is based on the physical examination, imaging tests, and biopsies of affected areas.
Pathologic Staging can only be determined from individual patients who have had surgery to remove a tumor or explore the extent of the cancer.
Pathologic staging combines the results of both the clinical staging (physical exam, imaging test) with surgical results.
Post-Therapy or Post-Neoadjuvant Therapy Staging determines how much cancer remains after a patient is first treated with systemic (chemotherapy or hormone therapy) and/or radiation therapy prior to their surgery or where no surgery is performed. This can be assessed by clinical staging guidelines and/or pathologic staging guidelines.
Restaging is used to determine the extent of the disease if a cancer comes back after treatment. Restaging helps determine the and the best treatment options for cancer that has returned.