Staging of oral cancer is the process of measuring the tumor – how big it is and determining the extent of spread of the tumor. Staging helps the dentist choose the most suitable treatment for oral cancer. We’ll discuss here staging of oral cancer briefly.
Staging of oral cancer
There are three main types of staging of oral cancer
- TNM Staging
- Number Staging
- Grade Staging
1. TNM Staging
There are three stages in this staging.
- T-Stage is describes the size of tumor
- N-Stage describes whether the tumor has spread to lymph node or not
- M-Stage describes extent of spreading of tumor to the entire oral cavity.
T-stage has 4 stages which shows the extent of growth of tumor in mouth.
T1 Stage describes the presence of tumor with in the tissue of mouth with 2 cm in size
T2 and T3 stage has tumor size increased gradually and does not spread to the other parts of oral cavity.
T4 stage shows that tumor has spread to entire oral cavity. In this spreading of tumor into jaw bone and muscles of tongue.
N-stage shows whether the tumor has spread to lymph nodes or not. It has 4 stages.
N0 Stages shows that no cancer cells on lymph nodes
N1 shows that spreading of cancer to lymph nodes with 3cm in size.
N2(a) shows that one lymph node gets effected on the same side of the neck.
N2(b) shows that more than one lymph node get affected on the same side of the neck
N2(c) shows that more than one lymph node gets affected on both sides of the neck.
N3 shows that cancer has spread to all the lymph nodes with more than 6cm in size.
M-stage measures whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the body or not.
It has 2 stages.
M0-Stage shows that no proliferation of tumor to other parts of the body.
M1-Stage shows that cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
2. Number staging
In this staging numbers are used to measure the extent of spreading of oral cancer. It has 5 stages.
Stage-1:This is pre cancer stage where cancer cells present on the lining of the mucous membrane of mouth but there is no spreading. Treatment in this stage is easy.
Stage-2: This is the early stage of oral cancer. In this spreading of cancer cells from lining of mouth to deeper parts of mouth.
Stage-3: Size of tumor increases from 2-4 cm and affects only one lymph node on same side of neck.
Stage-4: Spreading of cancer cells to all over the lymph nodes on both sides of neck with increase in size of up to 6 cm.
3. Grade staging
Grade staging shows how the tumor cells appear when observed under microscope.
Grade staging has 4 grades.
Low grade: In this, the cancer cells resembles normal oropharyngial cells. It is difficult to detect.
Intermediate grade: In this stage, cancer cells have slight differentiation from normal oral cells.
High grade: In this stage, abnormal cancer cells can be seen and can be differentiated from normal cells.
Very high grade: In this stage, cancer cells can be easily differentiated from normal oro pharyngial cells.