Uterine Cancer Stages
Uterine cancer stages provide a uniform way for physicians to describe the location of the cancer and the extent to which it has spread to other areas of the body. Most commonly, people refer to the standard numerical system when discussing stages. These stages are usually numbered one through four.
What is the TNM System?
One tool that is used to classify the stages of uterine, or endometrial, cancer is the tumor, node and metastasis (TNM) system. T represents the size and location of the primary tumor, N specifies whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and M indicates whether the cancer has metastasized to distant areas of the body.
The T, N and M classifications can be determined through tests such as physical exams, imaging, biopsies and surgical procedures. Once confirmed, this information is viewed collectively to establish the various uterine cancer stages:
- Stage 1 – The cancer is confined to the uterus.
- Stage 2 – The cancer has spread to the cervix.
- Stage 3 – The cancer has spread to the pelvic area, including the vagina, ovaries and/or lymph nodes.
- Stage 4 – The cancer has spread to the rectum and/or bladder. It may also have metastasized and spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones or lungs.
Additionally, uterine cancer stages include a grade (G) that describes the degree to which the cancer cells resemble healthy cells when viewed under a microscope. This information can be helpful to a physician in determining how quickly the cancer can be expected to spread.