Staging cancer is a way for your doctor to communicate how far your cancer has spread based on results from imaging tests, biopsies and other exams. Your cancer’s stage will help determine treatment and prognosis.

Using information such as the size of the tumor and whether cancer has spread to lymph nodes or nearby or distant organs, a stage is assigned. Stage 0 tumors are considered noninvasive and represent the earliest form of cancer, while stage IV usually signifies an advanced cancer that has spread to tissues or organs, such as the liver or lungs.

Because endocrine cancer covers a variety of different cancers, other factors may play a part in staging. For example, thyroid cancer stages also factor in age and type of thyroid tumor.