Staging is a way of describing a cancer, such as where it 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).
Basal cell and squamous cell rarely spread. On rare occasions, the patient's lymph nodes (tiny, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection) may be removed to determine if the cancer has metastasized. The doctor may perform other tests, including blood tests, chest x-rays, and imaging scans of the liver, bones, and brain, but this is uncommon.