Cancer staging is a term used to refer to describing the tumor's size and whether or not it has spread beyond the area where it began.
Staging systems are constantly being updated to be able to help doctors plan the best treatment and help give them an idea of the probably outcome of treatment.
Stage 1: The cancer cells are only in the uterus.
Stage 1A: The cancer is only found in the lining of the uterus or the muscle layer.
Stage 1B: The cancer has grown into more than half of the muscle layer.
Stage 2: The cancer has spread into the cervix.
Stage 3: The cancer has spread, though it is limited to the pelvis. There are three stages:
Stage 3A: The cancer is affecting the exterior lining of the uterus and/or has involved the ovaries and the fallopian tubes.
Stage 3B: The cancer has spread to the vagina and/or the tissue between the uterus and the lateral wall of the pelvis (parametrium)
Stage 3C: The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes of the pelvis and/or into the lymph nodes in the back part of the abdomen.
Stage 4: The cancer has spread to other organs in the body.
Stage 4A: The cancer has spread to the intestines and/or bladder.
Stage 4B: The cancer has spread to the lungs, the bones, or the brain (called secondary or metastatic cancers).
Some other terms used to describe cancer are:
- Early-stage uterine cancer: this refers to stages 1 and 2.
- Advanced uterine cancer: this refers to stages 3 and 4A.
- Metastatic uterine cancer: this refers to stage 4B.
- Recurrent cancer: this refers to cancer that reappears some time after the woman has received treatment.
Grading classifies cancers based on how they look under the microscope compared to normal cells. Knowing the grade of cancer helps your doctor decide if you need additional treatment after surgery.
Grade 1 (low-grade, or well-differentiated cancer) – This means the cancer cells resemble normal cells and in general grow slowly and are less likely to spread.
Grade 2 (moderate or intermediate cancer) – This means that the cancer cells have a more abnormal appearance and are slightly faster-growing.
Grade 3 (high-grade or poorly differentiated cancer) – This means that the cancer cells look very different than normal cells and can grow more quickly.