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Stages of cancer: what are they and why are they important?

There are many cancers out there that can quickly become deadly. Doctors often discuss cancer in terms of what stage it is in. It is important that a doctor performs all of the necessary tests in order to understand whether a patient has cancer and if so, what stage that cancer may be in. The stage a cancer is in has a lot of implications in terms of a person’s chances of survival. Let’s take a look at the different stages of cancer.

--Stage 0: This stage is known as ‘in situ,’ which means in position. In this stage the cancer can produce a tumor right where it started. The cancer poses little or no threat to a person’s life and may never go beyond this stage. It can be easy to cure by removing the tumor.

--Stage 1: This stage is often known as early-stage cancer and is basically localized. It is usually small and has not grown deep into nearby tissue. It also has not spread to other parts of the body.

--Stage 2 and 3: These two stages indicate larger tumors and cancers that have already spread into nearby tissue. Although they may have spread into the lymph nodes, they have not spread to other parts of the body yet.

--Stage 4: Generally speaking, this stage is an indicator that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body or to other organs. It is also known as metastatic or advanced cancer.

Understanding and knowing these stages can help doctors provide the appropriate treatment and predict future outcomes. If the wrong diagnosis is reached, it can mean the difference between life and death for a patient.

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