• Reviewed on 10/12
    By Dr. Kern & Dr. Carr

Lung Cancer: Stages


 

The stage of lung cancer guides the best treatment option. When lung cancer is diagnosed, the next step is to determine the stage of lung cancer.

The lung cancer stages are numbered from 0 to IV. In general, the lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. The higher the number the more the cancer has spread. The table below describes the lung cancer stages for non-small cell cancer.



 

 Stages of Non-Small Cell Cancer (Simplified Version)

Occult Stage Cancer cells are seen in the sputum. Sputum is mucus that is coughed up from the lungs. A tumor is not seen using diagnostic testing.
Stage 0 Abnormal cells are seen in the lining of the lung. These abnormal cells may become cancer cells. A tumor is not seen using diagnostic testing.
Stage IA A tumor is in the lung only. The tumor is 1 ¼ inches or less
Stage IB A tumor is in the lung and is more than 1 ¼ inches.
OR
The tumor is less than 1 ¼ inches, but may affect the airways or pleura.
Stage IIA The tumor is 1 ¼ inches or less and has spread to the lymph nodes on the same side of the chest as the tumor.
Stage IIB Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes on the same side of the chest as the tumor and is more than 1 ¼ inches.
OR
The tumor is more than 1 inch and affects the airways or pleura.
Stage IIIA Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the center of the chest between the lungs and affects the airways, pleura, chest wall or diaphragm.
Stage IIIB The tumor is any size and has spread to the lymph nodes above the collar bone or on the opposite side of the chest as the tumor and/or other organs/structures within the chest cavity.
Stage IV Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, to another lobe of the lung or to other parts of the body.

Modified from National Cancer Institute Non-Small Cell Cancer Treatment, 3/2010 

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