Tongue Cancer Stages

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Cancer is a life threatening disease, which changes one's entire life after its diagnosis. Tongue cancer is considered as a part of the oral cancer.As per the statistics, nearly 36,000 Americans are diagnosed with a version of oral cancer every year. Once tongue cancer is diagnosed, your doctor looks for its staging. For identifying the tongue cancer stages, standardized classification system is used which based on certain factors such as the size of the tumor, number of lymph nodes involved and whether the cancer cells are metastasized.

Facts Associated With Tongue Cancer Staging

As per the American Cancer Society, this system is called as TMNM system. Imaging tests such as PET scans, CT scans, and chest X-rays are involved in the staging of the cancer. Stage 0 is the initial stage of tongue cancer, in which the tumor is noninvasive. This stage can also be referred as carcinoma in situ. Stage IV is the advanced and final stage of cancer, during which the cancer cells get metastasized in most of the distant organs in the body. Tongue cancer can be referred as an insidious disease, whose symptoms are incredibly difficult to identify and diagnose. In most cases, it is diagnosed at the advanced stage. It is then very difficult to treat and cure it and hence majority people tend to die due to this type of cancer. If the cancer is diagnosed early, the prospects of patient survival increase. The selection and success of treatment option depends on the staging of the cancer. Tongue cancer stages relate the survival rate of the patient.

What are TNM stages?

TNM stands for Tumor Node and Metastasis of the cancer. They explain the size of the primary tumor (T), the spread of cancer in the lymph nodes (N) and the metastasis of cancer (M) in other body parts. This type of staging allows the doctors to categorize each stage distinctly.

Tumor Stage

This stage is divided into four stages.

  • The T1 stage indicates that the tumor is present in the tissues of the tongue and it covers about 2 cm area.
  • The t2 stage refers that the tumor size ranges in between 2 to 4 cm.
  • Once the tumor is claimed to be at T3 stage, it indicates that it has occupied area of more than 4 cm.
  • The T4a stage refers that the tumor has spread beyond in the tongue into the nearby tissues. It may get spread towards the spaces of the lower skull, upper jaw muscles, behind the jaws etc.

Node stage

The node stage is also divided into four sub stages.

  • The N0 stage claims that the tumor is not yet developed into any of the lymph nodes. The stage N1 refers that tumor has developed in one of the lymph node of one side and is less than 3 cm in diameter.
  • The N2a stage indicates that a single lymph node of one side is affected by this tumor and its diameter ranges from 3 to 6 cm.
  • In N2b stage, more than one lymph node is affected by the tumor, but the size of the tumor is less than 6 cm. Also this involves the lymph nodes of only one side.
  • At the N2c stage, the cancer cells are spread among multiple lymph nodes of either sides of the neck, but they are less than 6 cm in area.
  • The N3 stage claims that at least one of the affected lymph node has a tumor which is greater than 6 cm in diameter.

Metastasize Stage

This stage is bifurcated into just two divisions. The M0 stage refers that the tumor has not spread on a vacation body part. M1 stage claims that the cancer has spread into distant organs such as the lungs and bone.

Tongue cancer stages in numeric form

This technique involves four stages.

Stage 0

This stage is also referred as carcinoma in situ. Several doctors refer this stage as pre cancerous stage. At this stage, the cancer growth is unclear and can be referred as non invasive cancer.

Stage 1

This is the initial stage of cancer, in which the tumor starts developing into the lining and deep cells of the tongue. Tumor size at this stage is around 2cm and it is limited to the primary region.

Stage 2

The tumor spreads beyond 2 cm but less than 4 cm and is still restricted to the origin.

Stage 3

This stage claims two possibilities. Either the tumor is greater than 4 cm or has spread and is restricted to the primary location. Or it might mean that the size of the cancer varies and it has affected one of the lymph node of one side.

Stage 4

This stage is divided into three sub stages.

The stage 4a indicates that the tumor has spread into the nearby areas like lips and mouth. 4b means the cancer has spread into the lymph nodes of one side of the neck or is greater than 6 cm in diameter. The 4c stage indicates that cancer has spread into distant organs of the body like the bones, lungs etc.

Basically, tongue cancer stages explain the multiplication of cancer cells along with their nature to spread. After getting any abnormal signals of cancerous growth, make sure to visit your doctor and get it diagnosed.

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