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Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage Information for NSCLC


The Revised International System for Staging Lung Cancer

The Revised International System for Staging Lung Cancer, based on information from a clinical database of more than 5,000 patients, was adopted in 2010 by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) and the Union Internationale Contre le Cancer.[18,19] These revisions provide greater prognostic specificity for patient groups; however, the correlation between stage and prognosis predates the widespread availability of PET imaging.

Summary of Changes

This staging system is now recommended for the classification of both NSCLC and small cell lung carcinomas and for carcinoid tumors of the lung.[19]

The T (primary tumor) classifications have been redefined as follows:[19]

  • T1 has been subclassified into T1a (≤2 cm in size) and T1b (>2–3 cm in size).
  • T2 has been subclassified into T2a (>3–5 cm in size) and T2b (>5–7 cm in size).
  • T2 (>7 cm in size) has been reclassified as T3.
  • Multiple tumor nodules in the same lobe have been reclassified from T4 to T3.
  • Multiple tumor nodules in the same lung but a different lobe have been reclassified from M1 to T4.

No changes have been made to the N (regional lymph nodes) classification. However, a new international lymph node map defining the anatomical boundaries for lymph node stations has been developed.

The M (distant metastasis) classifications have been redefined as follows:

  • M1 has been subdivided into M1a and M1b.
  • Malignant pleural and pericardial effusions have been reclassified from T4 to M1a.
  • Separate tumor nodules in the contralateral lung are considered M1a.
  • M1b designates distant metastasis.

Table 1. Stage Grouping Comparisons: Sixth Edition Versus Seventh Edition Descriptors, T and M Categories, and Stage Groupingsa,b

Sixth Edition T/M Descriptor (cm)Seventh Edition T/MN0N1N2N3
T = primary tumor; N0 = no regional lymph node metastasis; N1 = metastasis in ipsilateral peribronchial and/or ipsilateral hilar lymph nodes and intrapulmonary nodes, including involvement by direct extension; N2 = metastasis in ipsilateral mediastinal and/or subcarinal lymph node(s); N3 = metastasis in contralateral mediastinal, contralateral hilar, ipsilateral or contralateral scalene, or supraclavicular lymph node(s); M = distant metastasis.
a Cells in bold indicate a change from the sixth edition for a particular TNM category.
b Reprinted with permission from Goldstraw P, Crowley J, Chansky K, et al.: The IASLC Lung Cancer Staging Project: Proposals for the revision of the TNM stage groupings in the forthcoming (seventh) edition of the TNM classification of malignant tumours.J. Thorac Oncol 2:706-14, 2007.
T4 (same lobe nodules)T3IIBIIIAIIIAIIIB
M1 (ipsilateral lung)T4IIIAIIIAIIIBIIIB
T4 (pleural effusion)M1aIVIVIVIV
M1 (contralateral lung)M1aIVIVIVIV
M1 (distant)M1bIVIVIVIV

AJCC Stage Groupings and TNM Definitions

The AJCC has designated staging by TNM classification to define NSCLC.[19]


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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