We have all heard cancer called being in a specific point, with higher numbered phases more serious than lower numbers. But what do these numbers really mean? Most physicians use a staging system named TNM, which measures tumor formation (T), lymph node involvement (N), and the presence of metastasis.
1. Stage 0 — Cancer described as phase 0 is typically at the earliest, most treatable stage. Specifically, cancer cells at stage 0 are only located in the upper layer of cells at the area of origin of the abnormality. Stage 0 cancer is typically treated with a watchful waiting strategy.
2. Phase 1 — Stage 1 cancer occurs when abnormal cells clump together and then start to burrow into the body component of origin. Though it’s much more serious than stage 0 cancer, phase 1 means the cancer still hasn’t spread, so it is usually relatively treatable and can often be surgically removed.
3. Stage two — When cancer reaches phase two, the cancer cells have started to develop into a tumor at the organ of origin. Normally, stage 2 cancer hasn’t yet spread, even though it also may be present in the lymph nodes at this point. Stage II cancer may be treated by chemo, radiation, or surgery.
4. Phase 3 — Stage 3 cancer occurs when the tumor grows and starts to spread into surrounding tissue, as well concerning the lymph nodes. Stage III can be treated by chemo, radiation, or surgery.
5. Stage 4 — Stage 4 cancer means that the cancerous cells and tumors are found in more than one organ, in addition to the lymph node system. Because of this, stage 4 cancer can be quite tricky to treat. Stage IV cancer may be treated by chemo, radiation, or surgery.
While the TNM system applies to many kinds of cancer, other forms use another system. Others still aren’t staged whatsoever. Furthermore, the cancer doesn’t change stages. It follows that even if a stage 1 cancer spreads into othethe organs of the body, it is still described as phase 1, or whatever point it was at when diagnosed. It follows that there are no specific treatments that are pertinent to the several stages, although generally the greater the stage when diagnosed, the longer and more extensive the treatment.