NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Melanoma, Version 1.2014
Cancer staging is how your doctors
rate and describe the extent of cancer
in your body. The rating—called the
cancer stage—is based on the results
of certain tests. The cancer treatments
that doctors recommend highly depend
on cancer staging. Part 3 describes the
staging system used for melanoma.
It also explains the different stages of
melanoma. Contact your treatment
team if you don’t know your cancer
stage. This information will help you
in Part 5.
What is staging?
Cancer staging is a way that doctors rate and
describe the extent of cancer in your body. Cancer
stages are defined by the growth of the first (primary)
tumor and its spread to other sites in the body.
Cancer staging is used by doctors to plan which
treatment is best for you.
Often, melanoma is staged twice. The first staging
is the clinical stage. It is based on the physical
exam, imaging tests, and skin biopsy of the primary
melanoma tumor. Imaging tests take pictures of the
inside of your body to look for signs of cancer. A skin
biopsy is the removal of a sample of tissue from the
concerning spot on your skin to test for cancer cells.
The second staging is the pathologic stage. It is
based on the clinical staging as well as results from
biopsies of lymph nodes and other tissue removed
during surgical treatment. Most of the time, the
pathologic stage is the most important stage. This is
because your lymph nodes can only be completely
examined for cancer cells by viewing the biopsy
sample with a microscope.
26 What is staging?
27 TNM scores
28 Stages of melanoma
31 Websites | Review