Skin Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions

18. I have heard people mention "stages" of cancer. What is a stage?

Once cancer has been found, the doctor will need to determine the extent, or stage, of the cancer. Through staging, the doctor can tell if the cancer has spread and, if so, to what parts of the body. More tests may be performed to help determine the stage. Knowing the stage of the disease helps you and the doctor plan treatment.

Staging will let the doctor know

  • the size of the tumor and exactly where it is
  • if the cancer has spread from the original tumor site
  • if cancer is present in nearby lymph nodes
  • if cancer is present in other parts of the body.

The choice of treatment is based on many factors, including the size of the tumor, its location in the layers of the skin, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. For stage 0, I, II or III cancers, the main goals are to treat the cancer and reduce the risk of it returning. For stage IV cancer, the goal is to improve symptoms and prolong survival.