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

Using information such as the size of the tumor and whether it 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 signifies an advanced cancer that has spread to distant lymph nodes or organs, such as the liver or lungs.

In addition to stage, your provider will take into account the grade of the tumor (how abnormal the tumor’s cells appear) and how much of the malignancy can be removed through surgery to help determine prognosis.