What are the grades and stages of anal cancer?

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What are the grades of anal cancer?

The grade of the cancer can help the doctor to predict how quickly the cancer will grow. You can have a low, moderate or high grade cancer. Lower grades are slower growing. Different grades may need different treatments.

What are the stages of anal cancer? 

Staging means finding out how big the cancer is and if it has spread to other parts of your body. Staging will help your doctor to plan the best treatment for you.

The staging system normally used in anal cancer is called TNM. This stands for:

  • Tumour (T): How big is the tumour?
  • Node (N): Is there cancer in your lymph nodes?
  • Metastasis (M): Has the cancer has spread to other parts of your body?

Your doctor often uses this information to give your cancer a number stage – from 0 to 4.

A higher number, such as stage 4, means a more advanced cancer. 

  • Stage 0: Abnormal cells that are found within the lining of the anus. It is not cancerous but if left untreated could develop into cancer. 
  • Stage 1: The cancer only affects your anal area and is smaller than 2cm.
  • Stage 2: The cancer only affects your anal area but is bigger than 2cm.
  • Stage 3: The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4: The cancer has spread to other parts of your body, for example your liver. This can also be called advanced cancer.

Staging can be hard to understand, so ask your doctor and nurse for more information if you need it.

For more information

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