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Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

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Stages of Skin Cancer

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    The following stages are used for nonmelanoma skin cancer that is not on the eyelid:

    Stage 0 (Carcinoma in Situ)

    cdr0000598468.jpg
    Stage 0 nonmelanoma skin carcinoma in situ. Abnormal cells are shown in the epidermis (outer layer of the skin).

    In stage 0, abnormal cells are found in the squamous cell or basal cell layer of the epidermis (topmost layer of the skin). 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

    cdr0000598469.jpg
    Stage I nonmelanoma skin cancer. The tumor is no more than 2 centimeters.

    In stage I, cancer has formed. The tumor is not larger than 2 centimeters at its widest point and may have one high-risk feature.

    Stage II

    cdr0000599852.jpg
    Stage II nonmelanoma skin cancer. The tumor is more than 2 centimeters wide.

    In stage II, the tumor is either:

    • larger than 2 centimeters at its widest point; or
    • any size and has two or more high-risk features.

    Stage III

    In stage III:

    • The tumor has spread to the jaw, eye socket, or side of the skull. Cancer may have spread to one lymph node on the same side of the body as the tumor. The lymph node is not larger than 3 centimeters.

    cdr0000599856.jpg
    Stage III nonmelanoma skin cancer (1). Cancer has spread from the primary tumor to bones of the jaw, eye socket, or side of the skull.

    or

    • Cancer has spread to one lymph node on the same side of the body as the tumor. The lymph node is not larger than 3 centimeters and one of the following is true:
      • the tumor is not larger than 2 centimeters at its widest point and may have one high-risk feature; or
      • the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters at its widest point; or
      • the tumor is any size and has two or more high-risk features.

    cdr0000726705.jpg
    Stage III nonmelanoma skin cancer (2). Cancer has spread to one lymph node that is 3 centimeters or smaller and is on the same side of the body as the primary tumor. Also, the tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller at its widest point and may have one high-risk feature; OR the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters at its widest point; OR the tumor is any size and has two or more high-risk features. There are five high-risk features: (1) the tumor is thicker than 2 millimeters; (2) the tumor has spread into the lower layer of the skin or into the layer of fat below the skin; (3) the tumor has grown and spread along nerve pathways; (4) the tumor began on an ear or on a lip that has hair on it; and (5) the tumor has cells that look very different from normal cells under a microscope.

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