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Staging is a way of describing where the tumor 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 of 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. For parathyroid cancer, the cancer is typically described as localized, metastatic, or recurrent.
Localized. This means the cancer is only found in the parathyroid gland and has not spread to nearby tissues or organs.
Metastatic. The cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the area or to other parts of the body, such as the lungs. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection. Parathyroid cancer rarely spreads to lymph nodes.
Recurrent. Recurrent cancer is cancer that comes back after treatment. It may come back in the original location or in another part of the body. If there is a recurrence, the cancer may need to be staged again (called re-staging).
Source: National Cancer Institute.