• Question: what is cancer measured in i heard someone say level three?

    Asked by logic to Sarah on 24 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Sarah Thomas

      Sarah Thomas answered on 24 Jun 2011:

      The stage of a cancer describes its size and whether it has spread beyond where it started in the body. Doctors use the results of tests and findings from surgery to decide the stage of a patient’s cancer.

      Knowing the extent of the cancer and how quickly it is likely to grow (the grade) helps the doctors to decide on the most appropriate treatment and also gives a rough idea of the outlook.

      Here is an example of the different stages of breast cancer. It goes from 0 to 4.

      Stage 0 – cancer cells within the ducts, always completely curable.

      Stage 1 – The tumour measures less than 2cm. The lymph nodes in the armpit are not affected and there are no signs that the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.

      Stage 2 – The tumour measures between 2 and 5cm, or the lymph nodes in the armpit are affected, or both. However, there are no signs that the cancer has spread further.

      Stage 3 – The tumour is larger than 5cm and may be attached to surrounding structures such as the muscle or skin. The lymph nodes are usually affected, but there are no signs that the cancer has spread beyond the breast or the lymph glands in the armpit.

      Stage 4 – The tumour is of any size, but the lymph nodes are usually affected and the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This is called secondary breast cancer. Breast cancer that has come back after initial treatment is known as recurrent breast cancer.

      The stages are different depending on the type of cancer but I hope this gives you a good idea of what stages mean.