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Pancreatic Cancer Health Center

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Stages of Pancreatic Cancer

    Tests and procedures to stage pancreatic cancer are usually done at the same time as diagnosis.

    There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body.

    The three ways that cancer spreads in the body are:

    • Through tissue. Cancer invades the surrounding normal tissue.
    • Through the lymph system. Cancer invades the lymph system and travels through the lymph vessels to other places in the body.
    • Through the blood. Cancer invades the veins and capillaries and travels through the blood to other places in the body.

    When cancer cells break away from the primary (original) tumor and travel through the lymph or blood to other places in the body, another (secondary) tumor may form. This process is called metastasis. The secondary (metastatic) tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the bones, the cancer cells in the bones are actually breast cancer cells. The disease is metastatic breast cancer, not bone cancer.

    The following stages are used for pancreatic cancer:

    Stage 0 (Carcinoma in Situ)

    In stage 0, abnormal cells are found in the lining of the pancreas. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in situ.

    cdr0000415526.jpg
    Pea, peanut, walnut, and lime show tumor sizes.

    Stage I

    cdr0000687928.jpg
    Stage I pancreatic cancer. In stage IA, the tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller. In stage IB, the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters.

    In stage I, cancer has formed and is found in the pancreas only. Stage I is divided into stage IA and stage IB, based on the size of the tumor.

    • Stage IA: The tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller.
    • Stage IB: The tumor is larger than 2 centimeters.

    Stage II

    In stage II, cancer may have spread to nearby tissue and organs, and may have spread to lymph nodes near the pancreas. Stage II is divided into stage IIA and stage IIB, based on where the cancer has spread.

    • Stage IIA: Cancer has spread to nearby tissue and organs but has not spread to nearby lymph nodes.
      cdr0000687932.jpg
      Stage IIA pancreatic cancer. Cancer has spread to nearby tissue and organs but has not spread to nearby lymph nodes.
    • Stage IIB: Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and may have spread to nearby tissue and organs.
      cdr0000742418.jpg
      Stage IIB pancreatic cancer. Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and may have spread to nearby tissue and organs.
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