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Staging Uterine Cancer

Staging systems provide doctors with a common language for describing tumors. After uterine cancer is diagnosed, a series of tests are used to investigate the extent of the cancer and to see whether it has spread to other parts of the body from where it started.

Staging is a way of recording the size, aggressiveness and growth of a cancer, and determining the plan for treatment. By understanding the stage of your cancer, you can make informed decisions about your treatment.

Staging uterine cancer attempts to discover the following:

  • The size of the tumor
  • Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and tissues
  • Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body

Stages of Uterine Cancer

Staging uterine cancer helps gynecologic oncologists compare an individual situation to other patients with uterine cancer. They can also review clinical studies on groups of patients in similar cancer stages to determine how the cancer may behave, and how different treatments may work.

The stages of uterine cancer are:

  • Stage I: Cancer cells are confined to the body of the uterus. The stage may be classified as IA, IB, or IC depending on how deeply the cancer has invaded the uterine wall.
  • Stage II: Cancer is found in the body of the uterus and the cervix, but has not spread outside the uterus. Stage II cancers may be further classified as stage IIA or IIB depending on whether the cancer has invaded the cervical stroma (supportive tissue).
  • Stage III: The cancer has spread outside the uterus, but not beyond the pelvis. In Stage IIIA, cancer has spread to the watery membrane (serosa) or the appendages of the uterus (fallopian tubes) or pelvic peritoneal (lining of the pelvis). In stage IIIB, the cancer cells have spread to the vagina. In stage IIIC, cancer has spread to pelvic or para-aortic lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV: The cancer has spread beyond the pelvis or into tissue in the bladder or rectum. In stage IVA, the tumor has spread to the bladder or the mucous membrane of the bowel. In stage IVB, cancer has spread to other areas including the abdomen or lymph nodes in the groin.