Friday, August 14, 2009

What does Staging Mean?

Another important factor in determining the type of therapy a tumor is most likely to respond to is the stage of the tumor. Simply stated, staging of the tumor is a fancy way of explaning how far a tumor has spread. It lets oncologists in different cities and around the world specifically define the extent of tumor spread and thus compare the effects of different therapies on similarly advanced cancers. Staging for most tumors goes from stage 1 to stage 4.

Stage 1 indicates a tumor with the lest spread, while stage 4 indicates that a tumor has spread widely through the body.

Stages has 3 major components.

1. The first of these is the size and the location of the main tumor mass ( Primary).

2. The second major component to staging is the number of lymph nodes involved. Lymph nodes are small collections of cells of the immune system that are scattered all over the body. As part of the immune system, they act as a border patrol for the area of the body near them, preventing, infections from " invading"Each lymph node monitors a smal area of the body, looking for material that shouldn't be there. When lymph node cells discover an invader, they become active and mobilize the immune system to fix the problem. When a cancer begins to spread, it usually stsrts spreding in to the lymph nodes closest to the primary tumor. Therefore, knowing which lymph nodes are involved is a good way of determining how far the tumor has spread.

3. The last element of staging involves determining whether or not a tumor has spread to another orgon. When a tumor has spread from a primary site into the bones or brain, it is considered to have metastasized. In such a case, it is judged to be an advanced-stage cancer.

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