- What is cancer?
- The difference between normal and cancer cells
- The causes of cancer
- The growth of advanced cancer and metastasis
- Noncancerous tissue changes
- Commonly searched cancer types
- Common cell cancer types
- Common cancer treatments
- What are the stages of cancer?
- Some more questions you may have about cancer
What are the stages of cancer?
Categorising cancer in stages helps to define where the cancer is located if it has spread and where and what body parts have been affected.
Tests conducted by doctors are done in order to define the stage of the cancer, this helps in planning treatment, estimating the chance or reoccurrence of the cancer after treatment, predicting the chances of success of treatment, explaining the diagnosis in an easy way to understand, and comparing larger populations who have the same diagnosis to be able to research new and more effective treatment methods.
This stage describes the cancer in its situation, or ‘in-situ’, this means where it is found when it starts to spread, its primary position. The cancer cells are identified according to their place of origin. But, the cancerous tumour is yet to spread to tissue nearby. When detected at stage 0, the prognosis is generally positive and the treatment, if necessary, may involve preventative surgical intervention combined with eating a healthy diet with no processed foods and boosting your immune system in an attempt to prevent the cancer from developing.
This is when a small and cancerous tumour has spread to nearby tissue, but it has not travelled further than this and has not gone into the blood stream or lymph system. This can also be referred to as early stage cancer, and with traditional care and protocol, at this stage, the prognosis is normally good.
Natural treatments such as health and lifestyle may be taken into account and adapted accordingly.
If you are diagnosed with stage one cancer, speak to your doctor and dietitian about medical treatment options and an eating plan and lifestyle changes that you may need to make to help fight the cancer and prevent its reoccurrence.
Stage 2 and 3
These stages are referred to as the cancers that have ‘regionally spread’. This means that the cancer has spread and embedded itself in nearby tissue. The cancer has also entered the bloodstream which may lead to the detection of cancer in the lymph system. It is crucial to boost the immune system at this point as the lymphatic system may be deteriorating and this system is the body’s natural system of defence against infection.
Boosting the immune system may help to kill cancer cells if they are able to be detected. At this stage, killing the cancer may not be as easy as attempting to boost the immune system. It is therefore important that you seek the medical care of a specialist to determine what the best form of treatment is based on the type of cancer and stage of progression.
These stages call for concern, however, since the cancer has not moved to other organs of the body, there is still hope for a full recovery through treatment.
This is referred to as the ‘distant spread’ of cancer as the cancer cells have moved to other vital organs in the body from their place of origin. Stage four cancer can also be called advanced cancer or metastatic cancer. It is often more difficult to treat and the outcome can sometimes be bleak, but sometimes the patient is able to recover. Treatment and lifestyle changes are vital at this stage.
Many forms of cancer are life-threatening and can be left undetected for a long period of time. It is always important to speak to your doctor about possible screening tests based on your health and family history.
The most common screening tests for women are often annual breast ultrasounds (for women younger than 45) and mammograms (usually in women aged 45 to 50 and older) to test for breast cancer, as well as pap smears to test for cervical cancer.
Men can also be screened for prostate cancer from age 40 onwards.
There are a number of cancer screening tests available and speaking to your healthcare professional will help in giving you direction about which tests to take according to your family history, possible symptoms and diagnosis.