Staging is the medical way of detailing the location, spread of cancer and knowing whether the cancer has affected other organs functionality or not. It aids in proper cancer diagnosis. Similar to the case of every cancer, the uterine cancer severity is also determined by knowing its cancer stage. The earlier the cancerous stage is detected, the more probable is the chance of survival from the uterine cancer.
The staging is known based on the fact whether the cancerous cells have invaded surrounding tissues or organs or restricted to its original place. To know this, doctor may advise to take one or more of the following tests.
Tests to Determine Uterine Cancer Staging
Pap test helps to determine whether tumor cells have extended to cervix. Blood tests are also done to check the functionality of kidneys and liver. CA-125 blood test is also performed as it is a biomarker for cancer whose level increases with cancer stage.
Chest X-ray is done to check for tumor in lungs. This helps to diagnose whether uterine cancer has spread to lungs or not. CT scan and MRI will help doctors to visualize the pelvis, abdomen and chest, and analyze cancer spread in uterus, lungs, lymph nodes or other nearby organs.
Hysterectomy, the endometrial surgery is needed in many cases to remove tumor and analyze tissue samples that help to know the confirmed stage of the uterine cancer.
The Uterine cancer staging is usually not considered complete before surgery. By knowing the stage correctly, doctor is able to choose on the best treatment and help to predict a woman’s chance of recovery (prognosis).
The staging helps to describe the cancer in a fixed pattern, so doctors can together bring out the best of treatments. One tool used to describe the stage is TNM (Tumor, Node, and Metastasis) system. Cancer is finally determined in five stages starting from stage 0 to stage IV.
Cancer Stages – Restricted to Uterus
In Stage 0, the cancer is in the very early stage (in situ). It is restricted to one layer of cells and has not spread, called as carcinoma. Under Stage I, the tumor is confined to uterus or womb and not spread to nearby organs of the body. It becomes Stage IA, when the tumor is found in endometrium or less than half of the myometrium. Further, it reaches Stage IB, the moment cancer spread to one half or more of the myometrium.
Spreading Beyond Uterus
In Stage II, the cancer spreads beyond the uterus to the stroma of cervix but not to other body parts. One is known to attain Stage III, as soon as the tumor goes beyond the uterus into the pelvic region. When the tumor grows into the uterine serosa and/or into fallopian tubes and ovaries but still not extended to other body parts, one has attained Stage IIIA.
Further it becomes Stage IIIB as the cancer enters the vagina or next region of the uterus. In Stage IIIC1, the tumor reaches to the lymph nodes of the pelvic region. Under Stage IIIC2, the tumor has further spread to the lymph nodes of para-aorta and may or may not have spread to lymph nodes of pelvic region.
As soon as the tumor has reached to the mucosal lining of the bladder or rectum, it is referred as Stage IVA. Last stage of uterine cancer, Stage IVB, is attained when the tumor further extends to lymph nodes of the groin-area, with or without spreading to organs like lungs or bones.
Photo Credit: http://www.mayoclinic.org/uterine-cancer/enlargeimage2523.html