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Staging is a way of describing where the cancer is located, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting the functions of other organs in the body. Doctors use diagnostic tests to determine the cancer's stage, so staging may not be complete until all the tests are finished. Knowing the stage helps the doctor to decide what kind of treatment is best and can help predict a patient's prognosis (chance of recovery). There are different stage descriptions for different types of cancer. Doctors use the following stages to describe NHL in children:
Stage I: Describes cancer that occurs in only one area, either above or below the large breathing muscle that separates the chest and abdomen (called the diaphragm).
Stage II: Describes a tumor that may occur in one area and surrounding lymph nodes, or it may be found in two or more lymph nodes or other areas on the same side of the diaphragm.
Stage III: Describes any of these four cases:
- Cancer occurs in tissue or lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphragm.
- Cancer started in the chest (mediastinum).
- Cancer started in the abdomen and spread throughout the abdomen and cannot be completely removed with surgery.
- Cancer is found in the area around the spine.
Stage IV: Describes cancer that is found in the bone marrow, spinal cord, and/or brain.
Recurrent: Recurrent cancer is cancer that comes back after treatment. If there is a recurrence, the cancer may need to be staged again (called re-staging) using the system above.
Source: National Cancer Institute.