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What is the TNM system for lung cancer staging?

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Lung cancer staging often uses the letters T, N, and M. Here's how they're used:

  • T stands for your tumor’s size and where it’s located in your lungs or body.
  • N stands for node involvement. This means whether or not your cancer has spread to your lymph nodes near your lungs.
  • M stands for metastasis. This means whether or not your cancer has spread. Lung cancer can spread to your other lung or your liver, bones, brain, kidneys, adrenal glands, or other parts of your body. Your doctor can stage your tumor with these letters, and then be more specific with the numbers 0-4. She’ll measure the size of your tumor in centimeters to give it a number. The higher the number, the more your tumor has grown or spread. She might also use X as a number. This means the tumor can’t be measured or it’s unclear how far it has spread.

SOURCES:

American Lung Association: “Lung Cancer Staging.”

LungCancer.org: “Types and Staging of Lung Cancer.”

American Cancer Society: “Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Stages.”

American Joint Committee on Cancer: “What Is Cancer Staging?”

Roswell Park Cancer Center: “Tumor Staging.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on June 30, 2017

SOURCES:

American Lung Association: “Lung Cancer Staging.”

LungCancer.org: “Types and Staging of Lung Cancer.”

American Cancer Society: “Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Stages.”

American Joint Committee on Cancer: “What Is Cancer Staging?”

Roswell Park Cancer Center: “Tumor Staging.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on June 30, 2017

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