Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a very emotional time. But it’s important to get the correct cancer diagnosis staging and then put together a plan of action.
Staging means determining what extent the cancer is in the body, or how much the cancer has spread. Usually the stage of the cancer is determined by numbers I to IV, with I being an isolated cancer and IV depecting a cancer that has spread to the limit of what the assessment measures. The stage of the cancer generally takes into account the size of a tumor, how deeply the tumor has penetrated with the wall of a hollow organ, such as an intestine or urinary bladde, if the lymph nodes are affected and whether the cancer has spread to distant organs.
In order to determine the cancer stage there needs to be a pathological diagnosis. This sometimes requires a biopsy or other test to get a sample of blood, tissue or bone marrow in order to confirm, under a microscope, the cancer diagnosis.
Once this happens, there may be additional tests such as CAT Scans, blood tests, PET Scans, or brain scans to determine the stage of the cancer. As soon as the stage is determined, then a cancer treatment plan and prognosis can be formulated.
When the stage can be determined, then recommendations will be made. This often involves seeing several doctors, which may include a surgeon, a radiation oncologist, a medical oncologist, as well as other healthcare providers.
Cancer treatment may require different therapies to treat the cancer. These treatments may include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
The good news is that there are many good treatments for cancer and they are improving every year with new cancer drugs and therapies. Once a treatment plan is formulated and treatment gets started, then things should calm down and hopefully life smoothes out a little bit.