Staging of cancer

The staging of cancer is a system used to measure how severe the disease is. Tumors get larger and spread to other parts of the body as cancer gets worse.

There are three components to staging:

  • Tumor size (T)
  • Involvement of lymph nodes (N)
  • Whether the tumor has spread (metastasized) from the original site to other parts of the body (M)

This staging system is commonly referred to as the TNM cancer staging system.

Last Updated: October 30, 2009

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Michael S. Rabin, MD - Medical Oncology

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