Staging of Lung Cancer
*Please note: This slide show represents a visual interpretation and is not intended to provide, nor substitute as, medical and/or clinical advice.
What is lung cancer staging and why is it important?

Lung cancer staging is a system that describes the overall size and spread of the main tumor.

Doctors need staging information to plan a patient’s lung cancer treatment.

What are the main stages of lung cancer? - Stage 0
Lung cancer is classified into several stages - the higher the stage the more advanced the spread of the disease.

In Stage 0 the cancer is only in the top layer of the cells lining the lung’s air passages. This is also called carcinoma in situ.

What are the main stages of lung cancer? - Stage I
In Stage I the cancer is small and is only in 1 lobe of the lung and nowhere else.
What are the main stages of lung cancer? - Stage IIA
In Stage IIA the cancer is in 1 lung and the main tumor is small - less than 3 cm or 3 to 5 cm wide - and has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage IIA could also mean that the cancer is in 1 lung and the main tumor is slightly bigger - 5 to 7 cm wide - but hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or elsewhere.

What are the main stages of lung cancer? - Stage IIB
In Stage IIB the cancer is in 1 lung and the main tumor is 5 to 7 cm wide and has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but not elsewhere.

Stage IIB could also mean that the main tumor is wider than 7 cm and has not spread to lymph nodes or elsewhere.

What are the main stages of lung cancer? - Stage IIIA
In Stage IIIA the cancer has spread to lymph nodes along the trachea on the same side as the main tumor.
What are the main stages of lung cancer? - Stage IIIB
In Stage IIIB the cancer has spread to lymph nodes along the trachea on the side opposite to the main tumor.
What are the main stages of lung cancer? - Stage IV
In Stage IV the cancer has spread to the other lung, as well as lymph nodes outside the lungs, small lumps (or nodules) in the lining of the lung, fluid around the lung (known as malignant pleural effusion), fluid around the heart (known as malignant pericardial effusion), or other organs (such as the liver, brain, and bones).
How is non-small cell lung cancer classified?
NSCLC is classified as either being “clinical stage” or “pathologic stage”: The clinical stage of NSCLC is based on results from the physical exam, biopsies, imaging tests, and other tests.

Information learned from surgery can be added to the results of the clinical stage and can reclassify NSCLC as being the pathologic stage.

Since many people with NSCLC do not have surgery, their cancer is only classified as clinical stage.
How is small cell lung cancer classified?
SCLC is classified as either being limited stage or extensive stage.

In limited stage the cancer is only in 1 side of the chest and it is small enough to be treated with a single radiation field. About 1 of 3 people have limited stage when first diagnosed with SCLC.

In extensive stage the cancer has spread through the lung, to the other lung, to lymph nodes on the other side of the chest, or to other parts of the body (including, the bone marrow, and the fluid around the lung). About 2 of 3 people have extensive stage when first diagnosed with SCLC.
Speak with your doctor about understanding your options
The survival of a patient with non-small cell lung cancer or small cell lung cancer depends on the stage of the disease, the patient's overall health, and many other factors.

Since survival estimates do not predict what will happen to any one person, it is best to talk with your doctor to understand your individual situation and options.

Slide Show - Staging of Lung Cancer

This slide show explains how lung cancer staging is a system that doctors use to describe or classify the overall size and spread of the main tumor. Doctors need lung cancer staging information to help plan a patient’s treatment. Lung cancer is classified into several stages - the higher the stage the more advanced the spread of the disease and the more aggressive the treatment strategy. In Stage 0 the cancer is only in the top layers of the cells lining the lung’s air passages and this is the easiest stage to treat. In Stage IV the cancer has spread to the other lung, lymph nodes outside the lungs, and other parts of the body.

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