ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about how doctors describe a cancerous tumor's growth or spread. This is called the stage. To see other pages in this guide, use the colored boxes on the right side of your screen, or click “Next” at the bottom.
Staging is a way of describing where a cancerous tumor is located, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting other parts of 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 cancers.
There is no standard staging system for a neuroendocrine tumor. The stages used to describe a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor are the same as the stages for pancreatic cancer. The following staging system is commonly used for Merkel cell cancer:
Stage IA. The primary tumor is smaller than 2 centimeters (cm) and has not spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Lymph nodes are tiny, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection.
Stage IB. The primary tumor is equal to or larger than 2 cm and has not spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Stage II. The cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, but it has not spread to other parts of the body.
Stage III. The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Recurrent. Recurrent cancer is cancer that has come 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.
Information about the cancer’s stage will help the doctor recommend a treatment plan for you. Choose “Next” (below, right) to continue reading about treatment options for this type of tumor. Or, use the colored boxes located on the right side of your screen to visit any section.