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What are the stages of throat cancer?

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Quick Answer

Throat cancer is identified by stages 0 to 5, explains Healthline. Stage 0 throat cancer means a tumor is present but hasn't moved beyond the throat; stage I indicates a tumor less than 7 centimeters, limited to the throat; stage II is a tumor slightly larger than 7 centimeters but still locally confined; stage III occurs when the tumor spreads to nearby tissues and organs; and stage IV describes a tumor that has spread to lymph nodes and distant organs.

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Another method used to describe the stages of throat cancer, created by the American Joint Committee on Cancer, is called the TNM system, and this system assigns a number or the letter X to each of three components: tumor, node and metastasis, says Cancer Treatment Centers of America. These three elements refer to the size of the tumor, its presence or absence in the lymph nodes, and whether it has spread throughout the body. The numbers one through four are used to indicate increasing severity, and the letter X means no information could be acquired. An overall stage is designated once these scores have been assigned.

Throat cancer is typically divided into two categories: pharyngeal and laryngeal. The first refers to the tube that connects the top of the windpipe to the area behind the nose, and the second is cancer that affects the voice box. Chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy are the common treatment options.

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