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Once your healthcare provider knows you have cancer, the next step is to find out the grade and stage of the cancer. Stage is a way to note the size of the tumor, and if it has spread. Grade is a way to note how abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope. Staging and grading of cancer is important for deciding how to treat it, and how curable it is.
The grade refers to how the cancer cells look when compared to normal breast cells. The grade of your cancer will help your doctor predict how fast the cancer may grow and spread. A scale of 1 to 4 is used to grade uterine sarcoma. The lower the number, the more the cancer cells look like normal cells. This means the cancer is less likely to spread, and can be easier to treat and cure. This is because cancer cells that look more like normal cells tend to grow and spread slowly. Grade 4 cancer cells look very different from normal cells. This grade of cancer is more likely to spread.
Doctors use different rating systems to stage cancer. There are 2 systems used most often to stage endometrial cancer:
FIGO staging system
TNM staging system
The two systems are very similar. The TNM system is:
T stands for tumor. This category notes details about the tumor itself.
N stands for nodes. Lymph nodes are small organs around the body. They help the body fight infections. This category notes if cancer cells have spread to the nearby lymph nodes.
M stands for metastasis. This category notes if the cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes, organs, or bones.
The stages for uterine sarcoma are:
Stage I. The cancer is only in the uterus. Stage IA means the cancer is not larger than 5 cm across. Stage IB means the cancer is larger than 5 cm across.
Stage II. The cancer has spread outside the uterus, but not outside the pelvis. Stage IIA means the cancer has spread to the ovaries and Fallopian tubes. Stage IIB means the cancer is growing into tissues of the pelvis other than the ovaries and Fallopian tubes.
Stage III. The cancer has not spread to distant parts of the body. Stage IIIA means the cancer is growing into abdominal tissues in only one place, but not to nearby lymph nodes. Stage IIIB means the cancer is growing into abdominal tissues in two or more places, but not to nearby lymph nodes. Stage IIIC means the cancer is growing into tissues of the abdomen and/or pelvis, but not the bladder or rectum. It has spread to lymph nodes near the uterus.
Stage IV. The cancer has spread to the bladder or the rectum, or to distant organs, such as the bones or lungs. Stage IVA means the cancer has spread to the bladder or the rectum but not to distant organs, such as the bones or lungs. Stage IVB means the cancer may or may not have grown into tissues in the abdomen or pelvis, such as the bladder or rectum. It may or may not have spread to lymph nodes near the uterus, but has spread to organs that are not next to the uterus, such as the bones or lungs, or it has spread to distant lymph nodes.
When your cancer is staged, your healthcare provider will talk with you about what the stage means for your treatment. Make sure to ask any questions or talk about your concerns.
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