Purpose of Stage

There are several reasons for staging cancer cases. One reason is that the need for staging places a responsibility on the medical practitioner to adequately assess the extent of cancer in order to treat the cancer in the most appropriate manner. Knowing the extent of disease assists the physician to determine the most appropriate treatment for the cancer, decrease the tumor burden, or relieve symptoms.

Staging is also used to indicate prognosis for an individual patient. Data from historical sources can provide an estimate of the expected survival rate for a particular cancer with a corresponding extent of disease. Histology and grade of tumor, patient demographics such as age, sex, and race, and the efficacy of therapy all play a part in determining the patient's prognosis and quality of survival.

Health information records are the primary source of documentation for staging information.

  • Staging provides a means of comparing local treatment results with national data based on common criteria for the extent of the cancer
  • Staging expedites the exchange of data and assists in the continuing research on cancer

Staging for cancer has evolved over many years. Some staging classifications cover all sites and others are limited by specific criteria such as site/histology (i.e., Breast, Lung, Prostate) or histology alone (i.e., Melanoma Skin, Mesothelioma, Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors [GIST]).

Updated: March 4, 2024