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Stages of Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

The following stages are used for non-small cell lung cancer:

Occult (hidden) stage

In the occult (hidden) stage, cancer cells are found in sputum (mucus coughed up from the lungs), but no tumor can be found in the lung by imaging or bronchoscopy, or the primary tumor is too small to be checked.

Stage 0 (carcinoma in situ)

In stage 0 (carcinoma in situ), cancer is in the lung only and has not spread beyond the innermost lining of the lung.

Stage I

Stage I is divided into stages IA and IB:

  • Stage IA: The tumor is in the lung only and is 3 centimeters or smaller.
  • Stage IB: One or more of the following is true:
    • The tumor is larger than 3 centimeters.
    • Cancer has spread to the main bronchus of the lung, and is at least 2 centimeters from the carina (where the trachea joins the bronchi).
    • Cancer has spread to the innermost layer of the membrane that covers the lungs.
    • The tumor partly blocks the bronchus or bronchioles and part of the lung has collapsed or developed pneumonitis (inflammation of the lung).

Stage II

Stage II is divided into stages IIA and IIB:

  • Stage IIA: The tumor is 3 centimeters or smaller and cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes on the same side of the chest as the tumor.
  • Stage IIB:
    • Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes on the same side of the chest as the tumor and one or more of the following is true:
      • The tumor is larger than 3 centimeters.
      • Cancer has spread to the main bronchus of the lung and is 2 centimeters or more from the carina (where the trachea joins the bronchi).
      • Cancer has spread to the innermost layer of the membrane that covers the lungs.
      • The tumor partly blocks the bronchus or bronchioles and part of the lung has collapsed or developed pneumonitis (inflammation of the lung).

      or

    • Cancer has not spread to lymph nodes and one or more of the following is true:
      • The tumor may be any size and cancer has spread to the chest wall, or the diaphragm, or the pleura between the lungs, or membranes surrounding the heart.
      • Cancer has spread to the main bronchus of the lung and is no more than 2 centimeters from the carina (where the trachea meets the bronchi), but has not spread to the trachea.
      • Cancer blocks the bronchus or bronchioles and the whole lung has collapsed or developed pneumonitis (inflammation of the lung).

Stage IIIA

In stage IIIA, cancer has spread to lymph nodes on the same side of the chest as the tumor. Also:

  • The tumor may be any size.
  • Cancer may have spread to the main bronchus, the chest wall, the diaphragm, the pleura around the lungs, or the membrane around the heart, but has not spread to the trachea.
  • Part or all of the lung may have collapsed or developed pneumonitis (inflammation of the lung).

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

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