What is Tumor “Stage”? How Is Uterine Cancer Staged?

The stage of cancer refers to how much of the body is involved at the time of diagnosis. In general, one can break down the stages into those without spread out-side of the organ in which they start (stage I) and those that have spread locally (stages II, III) or to distant sites (metastases) (stage IV). The system for staging uterine cancer is set by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).

As applied to uterine cancer, its earliest is Stage I, when it is confined solely to the uterus. In Stage II, there is spread below the uterus into the cervix. In Stage III, the cancer has moved to lymph nodes, the vagina, or into the pelvis where the ovaries live. In Stage IV, there is either locally advanced disease involving the bladder or bowel wall or, at its most extensive, it has spread beyond the pelvis, to the fatty apron surrounding the bowels (the omentum), liver, or lungs. Involvement of the lymph nodes where the thigh meets the hip (the inguinal area) also connotes Stage IV disease.