What are The Different Stages of Cancer?

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What are The Different Stages of Cancer?

What are The Different Stages of Cancer?

The main features of all the cancers are where cancer has started in the body. The characteristics of the tumor and its classification of anatomic extent of the disease is known as ‘the stage.’


The ‘CANCER STAGING’ is the process to determine the anatomic extent of the disease.

The staging of cancer started over a hundred years ago.

Earlier relied only on clinical examination, plain radiographs and ultrasound scanning.

After this the next procedure was exploratory or staging surgery.

The next was using tools like such as CT, MRI, ULTRASOUND AND PET IMAGING and pTNM

The TNM Staging System

The TNM staging system tells the amount and the spread of cancer in detail in the body. Doctors use this system to describe most types of cancer.

The TNM system is:

T—is the extent and the size of the tumor at the primary site.

N—the presence or absence of tumor in the lymph nodes

M—the presence or absence of metastasis beyond the lymph nodes.

The doctor while using TNM staging system they also attach a number to the letters like TI,NO,MO, this indicates if the tumor has grown and spread into the lymph nodes or to the other parts of the body.

  • Once the T,N and M categories are done they combined into stage groups, then it recorded and kept in the medical record and it is not changed
  • If it is recorded it helps for the patient’s treatment and to assess the progress.
  • The stage should be known before proceeding for treatment, whether it is localized or early stage disease or advanced or late stage disease.

Five Stages of Cancer

Using the TNM system cancer is divided into five stages. The five stages are O,I, II, III, IV.

Stage O is that in the site a small carcinoma is present that has not spread. Stage IV means that the cancer has spread widely or metastasized. Different cancers spread in different organs of the body like into the liver, lungs, adrenal glands, brain and bones.

STAGE O: This stage the cancer is fairly new and has not spread and is the place (situ) where it has started. Here it is curable by removing the entire tumor with surgery.

STAGE I: At this stage has not grown deeply into the nearby tissue and still is a small tumor. It is often called early-stage cancer. For example breast cancer stage I means the tumor is small and has not spread to the lymph nodes and is curable.

STAGE II and III:  These two stages means large cancers or tumors have grown deeply into the nearby tissue and have also spread to lymph nodes but not to the other parts of the body.

STAGE IV: At this stage the cancer has spread to the other organs or parts of the body and is known as advanced or metastatic cancer. This is the late-stage of cancer and difficult to treat as no therapy can remove all the tumors and the patient is too weak for surgeries.

Stages are Determined

  1. X-RAYS
  3. CT,MRI,PET 
  5. BIOPSY.

The stages help the doctors to determine the size and spread of cancers and decide the treatment and also to say about the chances of survival for example stage I colorectal cancer is treated in a different way than the stage 3 or 4 colorectal cancer. 

The stages not only help the doctor to decide the treatment pattern but also to find new treatments for cancer that may work better. So stages O, I, II, and III are curable. Sometimes serious forms cancers like pancreatic and lung cancer even II and III stages are difficult to predict if can be cured.

Cancers That are Not Staged

  1. Most of the blood cancers including leukemia are not staged. As during diagnosis the leukemia cells are already circulating throughout the body.
  2. Brain tumors are also not staged as they may have spread to the other parts of the nervous system.
  3. Small cell lung cancer is known as limited stage- where it is limited the chest or extensive disease- where it has extended outside the chest and the treatment is with a different approach.

Difference Between Cancers Stage and Cancer Grade

A cancer stage describes the size of the primary tumor and how far the cancer has spread in the body.

A grade describes the appearance of the cancer cells and the tissue.

Grading of Cancer

GRADE I: The tumor cells look like healthy cells and are known as low- grade.

GRADE II: The cells are a bit abnormal and are termed as intermediate-grade tumors.

GRADE III: They look very abnormal and considered as high grade.

GRADE IV : These are the most abnormal looking cells. They are the highest grade and 

 Spread  faster than the lower-grade tumors.

The cancers are also known as PRIMARY and SECONDARY TUMORS.

The original site of the tumor is PRIMARY and if the tumor has spread to the other parts of the body it is known as SECONDARY.

Diet For Cancer Patients

  • A healthy diet can prolong life for cancer patients and survivors.
  • Alkaline foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
  • Cancer fighting foods are berries, greens nuts, whole grains and seeds.
  • Avoid eating unpasteurized milk, milk products cheese unwashed fruits, vegetables raw sprouts, raw eggs , processed food and so on.

Awareness and Knowledge of Cancer

Cancer is the leading cause of death in developed countries and the second leading cause in developing countries. Awareness and knowledge of the danger of cancer can reduce the risk of cancer deaths. Though many people are aware of the cancer disease still the need for cancer screening is very low. So, cancer screening awareness campaigns must be done regularly, especially in rural areas. Even in urban areas the general public is aware of breast cancer and lung cancer, not such knowledge of other cancers like colorectal cancer, retinoblastoma, head and neck cancers and so on.