Stages of Cancer
Depending on how serious the cancer is in your body and how far it has spread throughout your body, doctors will say that it has reached a particular stage. Stages with low numbers mean that the cancer hasn't spread very far. Stages with high numbers mean that the cancer has spread from one part of your body to others, which tends to make the cancer more serious and more difficult to treat. Most cancers have four stages: Stage I (One) to IV (Four). Some cancers also have a Stage 0 (Zero).12
- Stage 0. This stage describes cancer in place or “in situ”. Stage 0 Cancers are still located in “the place” they started. They have not spread to nearby tissues. This stage of cancer is often highly curable, usually by removing the entire tumor with surgery.12,13
- Stage I. Stage I is often referred to as “early-stage or localized ” cancer. It is usually a small cancer or tumor that has not grown deeply into the surrounding tissue. It also has not spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.12
- Stage II and Stage III. These stages indicate larger cancers or tumors that have deeply grown into surrounding tissue. They may have also spread to lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body. Typically referred to as a “Regional Spread”.12,13
- Stage IV. This stage means that the cancer has spread to other organs or parts of the body. Sometime referred to as “Advanced” or “Metastatic” Cancer.13
Doctors who study and treat cancer are called "oncologists." Oncology—the study of cancer—has three parts:
- Preventing cancer—helping people avoid cancer.
- Diagnosing cancer—figuring out who has cancer, what type and what stage.
- Treating cancer—help determine treatment options for patients to help them treat the cancer and/or the symptoms.
It is important to remember that if you have been diagnosed with cancer, you are not alone. The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institute of Health, provides the following statistics about cancer in the United States:1
- Roughly 40% of people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.
- Over 1.6 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2016.
- While nearly 16,000 children were diagnosed with cancer in 2014, about 88% survived it.
- Nearly 14.5 million people lived beyond a cancer diagnosis in 2014.
- Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
- The most common cancers are breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, colon and rectal ("colorectal") cancer, bladder cancer, and melanoma (a type of skin cancer).
- More men than women die from cancer.
- Among ethnic groups and genders, cancer deaths are most common among African-American men and lowest among Asian and Pacific Islander women.
- The World Health Organization provides the following statistics about cancer worldwide:2 Throughout the world, cancer is one of the main causes of death. In 2012, cancer accounted for over 8 million deaths.
- The most common causes of death from cancer worldwide are lung cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer, colon and rectal cancer, breast cancer, and esophageal cancer.
- Globally, the most significant risk factor for cancer—something that can cause cancer—is tobacco use, which is connected to 20% of all cancer deaths, and to 70% of deaths from lung cancer.
Between 2012 and 2032, the number of new cancer cases diagnosed globally each year is expected to rise from 14 million to 22 million.2 The most common form of cancer in the U.S. is breast cancer.14 The most common cancer that causes death is lung cancer. Besides skin cancer, the three most common types of cancer in American men are prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. In American women, besides skin cancer the three most common forms are breast cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer.
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