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Stages of Cancer

Depending on how serious the cancer is in your body and how far it has spread throughout your body, doctors will say that it has reached a particular stage.  Stages with low numbers mean that the cancer hasn't spread very far.  Stages with high numbers mean that the cancer has spread from one part of your body to others, which tends to make the cancer more serious and more difficult to treat. Most cancers have four stages: Stage I (One) to IV (Four). Some cancers also have a Stage 0 (Zero).12

  • Stage 0. This stage describes cancer in place or “in situ”. Stage 0 Cancers are still located in “the place” they started. They have not spread to nearby tissues. This stage of cancer is often highly curable, usually by removing the entire tumor with surgery.12,13
  • Stage I. Stage I is often referred to as “early-stage or localized” cancer. It is usually a small cancer or tumor that has not grown deeply into the surrounding tissue. It also has not spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.12
  • Stage II and Stage III. These stages indicate larger cancers or tumors that have deeply grown into surrounding tissue. They may have also spread to lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body. Typically referred to as a “Regional Spread”.12,13
  • Stage IV. This stage means that the cancer has spread to other organs or parts of the body. Sometime referred to as “Advanced” or “Metastatic” Cancer.13

Doctors who study and treat cancer are called "oncologists."  Oncology—the study of cancer—has three parts:

  1. Preventing cancer—helping people avoid cancer.
  2. Diagnosing cancer—figuring out who has cancer, what type and what stage.
  3. Treating cancer—help determine treatment options for patients to help them treat the cancer and/or the symptoms.