What Does Level 3 Cancer Mean?


Quick Answer

"Stage 3" refers to cancers or tumors that are large, have spread into lymph nodes and have grown into tissue around the affected organ. However, they have not yet spread throughout the body. Cancer that is found throughout the body is graded at "Stage 4," according to Cancer.net.

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Full Answer

The American Joint Committee on Cancer established the tumor, node, metastasis, or TNM, system, which contains the three factors used to determine a particular cancer's stage. Each of the three factors receives its own rating, and doctors combine those ratings to arrive at the stage, states Cancer.net.

The tumor factor ranges from 0 to 4 and describes the location and size of the tumor as well as its penetration into nearby tissues. The larger the tumor and the deeper the tissue penetration, the higher the number. Some cancers receive a lowercase letter to the T code for additional information, notes Cancer.net.

The node factor ranges from 0 to 3, and it describes whether cancer is present in the lymph nodes and if so, how many. Doctors begin looking at lymph nodes closest to the starting point of the cancer. The more nodes they find with cancer, the higher this number. The metastasis factor indicates the degree to which the cancer has spread. This factor is either 0, indicating no spreading, or 1, if cancer has moved elsewhere in the body, states Cancer.net.

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