Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Stages
Non-small cell lung cancer stages are used to express how far the cancer has spread. There are seven non-small cell lung cancer stages: the occult stage, stage 0 (carcinoma in situ), stages I-IV, and recurrent cancer. Knowing which of the non-small cell lung cancer stages best describes a patient's cancer is important when planning treatment of the disease.
After a lung cancer diagnosis has been made, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the lungs or to other parts of the body.
The process used to determine if cancer has spread within the lungs or to other parts of the body is called lung cancer staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the non-small cell lung cancer stage. It is important to know the non-small cell lung cancer stage in order to plan lung cancer treatment.
(See Staging of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer for more information on how this type of cancer is staged.)
Specific non-small cell lung cancer stages include:
- Stage 0 (carcinoma in situ)
- Stage I
- Stage II
- Stage III
- Stage IV
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 usually too small to be assessed.
In stage 0 (carcinoma in situ), cancer is limited to the lung and is found only in a few layers of cells. It has not grown through the top lining of the lung.