What is cancer stage? Who captures cancer stage?

Cancer stage is the way to describe the extent of a cancer – the size of the cancer and how far it has spread. Cancer stage is critical in determining the patient’s prognosis and helps doctors make informed decisions about how to treat the cancer.

One of the main staging systems is TNM staging which is used globally for collaborative staging.

  • T stands for the size and extent of the tumour
  • N stands for the lymph nodes involved
  • M stands for metastasis, or the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body

When patients are reviewed at multidisciplinary team meetings cancer stage is one of the key pieces of information considered to determine the best available treatments. The agreed stage is collected in QOOL and made available in communication between teams and for further analysis.

Staging information is very valuable and is used to evaluate and report patient outcomes and treatment patterns against best practice guidelines.