What Are the Stages of Pancreatic Cancer?
The stages of pancreatic cancer are used to describe how advanced the cancer is in your body. The higher the stage number, the more widespread the cancer is. These stages are important when choosing the best treatments for you. Your doctor might not be able to tell how far your cancer has spread (especially to the lymph nodes, which are tiny bean-shaped organs throughout the body that help fight infections) unless and until surgery is performed. For this reason, doctors often use a simple staging system for pancreatic cancer that divides cancers into groups based on whether or not they can be removed by surgery. * Resectable - The surgeon can remove the entire tumor. These tumors may be in the pancreas or beyond it, but they have not spread to the critical arteries or veins in the area. There is no evidence of any spread to areas outside of the pancreas. * Locally advanced (unresectable) - The cancer cannot be removed (resected) by surgery because it has spread to critical arteries, veins, or surrounding organs. However, the cancer has not yet spread to distant organs. Surgery is only done on unresectable cancer to relieve symptoms or problems, such as a blocked bile duct or intestinal tract. * Metastatic - The cancer has spread to organs beyond the pancreas, such as the liver. Surgery is only done for metastatic cancer to relieve symptoms or problems, such as a blocked bile duct or intestinal tract. The TNM staging system described below is more precise and doctors often use it to figure out whether surgery is possible. -------------------------------------------------
One way to describe the stages of pancreatic cancer is to use the TNM system. This system uses three different codes to describe the size and location of the tumor, whether it has spread to the lymph nodes around the tumor, and whether it can be found in other parts of the body. Because doctors usually classify tumors during surgery...
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