Following a cancer diagnosis, your healthcare team will determine the stage of the cancer. This will be based on the extent of disease in the lungs, lymph nodes and rest of the body. Staging is completed before providing a treatment plan.
Some of the tests used to diagnose lung cancer are also used to stage lung cancer. Your cancer team has many testing options, which include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) scans, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, bone scans, endoscopic ultrasounds and biopsies.
The TNM system is used to stage cancer. In lung cancer, "T" stands for tumor (location and size), "N" stands for node (lymph node involvement and location) and "M" stands for metastasis (spread beyond the involved lung). While some stages are broken down into multiple parts, the following are the basic stages used for lung cancer:
Once staging and biopsies are completed, your healthcare team will start mapping out a plan of treatment.