Skin Cancer (Non-Melanoma): Stages

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2015

ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about how doctors describe a cancer’s growth or spread. This is called the stage. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Staging is a way of describing where the cancer is located, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting other parts of the body. Doctors use diagnostic tests to find out 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, which is the chance of recovery.

Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma usually do not spread to other parts of the body. On rare occasions, a person’s lymph nodes may be removed to find out if the cancer has metastasized. Lymph nodes are tiny, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection. The doctor may recommend other tests, including blood tests, chest x-rays, and imaging scans of the lymph nodes and nerves, liver, bones, and brain, but this is also uncommon.

Information about the cancer’s stage will help the doctor recommend a specific treatment plan. The next section in this guide is Treatment Options. Or, use the menu on the side of your screen to choose another section to continue reading this guide.