Doctors collect data about cancer to determine the stage, which indicates the size and spread. Your stage of cancer typically doesn’t change after your diagnosis, even if the cancer progresses. The American Joint Committee on Cancer and the Union for International Cancer Control developed and maintains an internationally recognized staging system:

T= The original tumor.

N = Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

M = Cancer has spread to other parts of the body. (metastatic cancer)

Roman numerals after the T, N and M indicate how advanced the cancer is. From 0 to IV, stage IV is the most serious.

0: There are abnormal cells that have the potential to become cancer.

I: Cancer is found only where it started (localized or early-stage cancer).

II: Cancer has spread to nearby tissues.

III: Cancer cells are in nearby lymph nodes and may be in the bloodstream.

IV: Cancer has spread to the bloodstream and distant organs

(advanced or metastatic cancer).

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