ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about how doctors describe a cancer’s growth or spread. This is called the stage. Use the menu to see other pages.
What is cancer staging?
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 find out the cancer’s stage, so staging may not be complete until all of the tests are finished. Knowing the stage helps the doctor recommend the best kind of treatment, and it can help predict a patient’s prognosis, which is the 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. The cancer is only located in the parathyroid gland and has not spread to nearby tissues or organs.
Metastatic. The cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the head and neck area or to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, or bone. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection.
Recurrent. Recurrent cancer is cancer that has come back after treatment. The most common place of recurrence is in the neck. If the cancer does return, there will be another round of tests to learn about the extent of the recurrence. These tests and scans are often similar to those done at the time of the original diagnosis.
Source: National Cancer Institute.
Information about the cancer’s stage will help the doctor recommend a specific treatment plan. The next section in this guide is Types of Treatment. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.