Read about what staging means and how the different types of head and neck cancer are staged.
Download the complete head and neck cancer booklet
Our new booklet 'Understanding head and neck cancer' is available now.
Download section three of our head and neck cancer booklet: Staging head and neck cancer
- Staging describes the size of your cancer, and if it has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of your body.
- Head and neck cancer is given a number from stage 1 to stage 4. The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread.
- Cancers in the oropharynx (tongue, tonsil, and throat) are staged differently, depending on whether they are linked to HPV.
- Ka whakamārama te mahi wāhanga, i te rahi o tō matepukupuku, mehemea kua roha ki ngā tīpona waitinana, ki wāhi kē rānei o tō tinana.
- Ka hoatuna he tau ki te matepukupuku upoko me te kaki, mai i te 1 ki te 4. Ko te iti ake o te tau, ko te iti ake o te roha o te matepukupuku.
- Ka whakawāhanga rerekētia te oropharynx (te arero, te miramira, te korokoro) e ai ki tōna whai hononga ki te HPV.
Staging head and neck cancer
- the size of your cancer (T)
- if there is cancer in your lymph nodes (N)
- if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body (M).
Cancers in the oropharynx (tongue, tonsil, and throat) are staged differently, depending on whether they are linked to HPV.
Staging is based on the results of tests that you have had, such as scans, biopsies, and surgery. Your treatment team will use the T, N and M information to give the cancer a stage or number from 1 to 4. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 4 is more advanced cancer. Knowing the stage will help the treatment team decide on the best treatment for you.
Your doctor or another member of your treatment team will be able to give you
more information about the stage of the cancer. In general:
Simplified staging of head and neck cancers
- Stage 1 (early or local cancer): The cancer is small and found only in one place.
- Stage 2/3 (locally advanced cancer): The cancer has spread to other parts of your head and neck.
- Stage 4 (advanced, secondary, or metastatic cancer): The cancer has spread to other parts of your body.