SEER Summary Stage

Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Summary Staging Manuals

Summary Stage is the most basic staging classification available, based on the most complete information from the clinical and pathological workup. It is based on local, regional or distant cancer and is applicable to all cases and is applicable for all cases. This staging classification is from SEER and has been used since 1977.

Guidelines for Summary Staging

Listed below are the five main categories of Summary Staging

  • In situ
  • Localized
  • Regional
  • Distant
  • Unknown
  1. Rule out distant cancer first. If metastases can be documented, there is no need to spend a great deal of time identifying local or regional spread ofthe cancer
  2. Carcinomasand melanomas are the only types of cancer that can be classified as in situ. Sarcomas are never described as in situ
  3. If there is any evidence of invasion, nodal involvement or metastatic spread, the case is not in situ even if the pathology report so states
    1. This is a common error in staging cervical cancer where the path report states that the cancer is "in situ with microinvasion"—such a case would be staged as localized.
  4. Cancer described as localized, must not extend beyond the outer limits of the organ and there must be no evidence of metastases anywhere else
  5. If there are lymph nodes involved with the tumor, the stage is at least regionalized.
    1. If a specific chain of lymph nodes is not named and there is no indication in the chart of its location, assume that the nodes are regional.
  6. If there is not enough information in the record to categorize a case, it must be recorded as unstageable.

For further information on Summary Stage, please see the Summary Stage module on the SEER training website.

Updated: March 4, 2024