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Cancer Health Center

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Nasopharyngeal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage Information for Nasopharyngeal Cancer

Table 2. Regional Lymph Nodes (N)a, b

a Reprinted with permission from AJCC: Pharynx. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 44-56.
b The distribution and the prognostic impact of regional lymph node spread from nasopharyngeal cancer, particularly of the undifferentiated type, are different from those of other head and neck mucosal cancers and justify the use of a different N classification scheme.
c Midline nodes are considered ipsilateral nodes.
d Supraclavicular zone or fossa is relevant to the staging of nasopharyngeal carcinoma and is the triangular region originally described by Ho. It is defined by three points: (1) the superior margin of the sternal end of the clavicle, (2) the superior margin of the lateral end of the clavicle, (3) the point where the neck meets the shoulder. Note that this would include caudal portions of levels IV and VB. All cases with lymph nodes (whole or part) in the fossa are considered N3b.
NX Regional lymph nodes cannot be assessed.
N0 No regional lymph node metastasis.
N1 Unilateral metastasis in cervical lymph node(s), ≤6 cm in greatest dimension, above the supraclavicular fossa, and/or unilateral or bilateral, retropharyngeal lymph nodes, ≤6 cm in greatest dimension.c
N2 Bilateral metastasis in cervical lymph node(s), ≤6 cm in greatest dimension, above the supraclavicular fossa.d
N3 Metastasis in a lymph node(s)c>6 cm and/or to supraclavicular fossa.d
N3a >6 cm in dimension.
N3b Extension to the supraclavicular fossa.d

Table 3. Distant Metastasis (M)a

a Reprinted with permission from AJCC: Pharynx. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 41-56.
M0 No distant metastasis.
M1 Distant metastasis.
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