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 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 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.
There is no standard system for staging Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. Instead, doctors may look at several factors to determine a prognosis:
the severity of a patient’s anemia
the patient's age
a low level of red blood cells
the amount of immunoglobulin M (IgM) in the blood
the amount of a protein in the blood called beta-2-microglobulin
the extent of lymph node or spleen enlargement
People with low beta-2-microglobulin levels and normal hemoglobin—which is the protein that carries oxygen in a red blood cell—typically have a better prognosis. Younger patients and those with lower levels of IgM in the blood also tend to have a better prognosis.
Information about the cancer’s factors 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.