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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Staging pancreatic cancer

The stage of a cancer is a term used to describe its size and whether it has spread beyond its original area of the body. Knowing the extent of the cancer helps the doctors to decide on the most appropriate treatment.

Generally, pancreatic cancer is divided into four stages: small and localised (stage one); spread into surrounding structures (stages two or three); or spread into other parts of the body (stage four). If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body this is known as secondary cancermetastatic cancer). (or

A commonly used staging system is described below.

Stage 1 This is the earliest stage. The cancer can only be found inside the pancreas itself, although it may be quite large. There is no cancer in the lymph nodes close to the pancreas and no sign that it has spread to anywhere else in the body.

Stage 2 The cancer has started to grow into the duodenum or bile duct, or other tissues or organs close to the pancreas. There is no cancer in the nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 3 The cancer can be any size and may have spread into the tissues surrounding the pancreas.

Cancer is also found in the nearby lymph nodes. In this situation, it is likely that the cancer may have spread into other body organs through the lymph system.

Stage 4 These cancers are divided into 4A and 4B.

4A means the cancer has grown into organs close to the pancreas, such as the stomach, spleen, large bowel or nearby large blood vessels. Cancer may or may not be present in the lymph nodes.

4B means the cancer has spread to other body organs such as the liver or lungs.

Via: http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk

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