Staging of childhood rhabdomyosarcoma is done in three parts.
Childhood rhabdomyosarcoma is staged by using three different ways to describe the cancer:
- A staging system.
- A grouping system.
- A risk group.
The staging system is based on the size of the tumor, where it is in the body, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body:
In stage 1, the tumor is any size, has not spread to lymph nodes, and is found in only one of the following "favorable" sites:
- Eye or area around the eye.
- Head and neck (but not in the tissue next to the brain and spinal cord).
- Gallbladder and bile ducts.
- In the testes, vagina, or uterus.
Rhabdomyosarcoma that forms in a "favorable" site has a better prognosis. If the site where cancer occurs is not one of the favorable sites listed above, it is said to be an "unfavorable" site.
Pea, peanut, walnut, and lime show tumor sizes.
In stage 2, cancer is found in an "unfavorable" site (any one area not included in stage 1). The tumor is no larger than 5 centimeters and has not spread to lymph nodes.
In stage 3, cancer is found in an "unfavorable" site (any one area not included in stage 1) and one of the following is true:
- The tumor is no larger than 5 centimeters and cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
- The tumor is larger than 5 centimeters and cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes.
In stage 4, the tumor may be any size and cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes. Cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the lung, bone marrow, or bone.
The grouping system is based on whether the cancer has spread and whether all the cancer was removed by surgery:
Cancer was found only in the place where it started and it was completely removed by surgery. Tissue was taken from the edges of where the tumor was removed. The tissue was checked under a microscope by a pathologist and no cancer cells were found.