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The stage of a cancer is a term used to describe its size and whether it has spread beyond its original site.
Knowing the extent of the cancer helps the doctors to decide on the most appropriate treatment. Most people with basal cell cancers do not need to have tests to find the stage of the cancer, as it is very rare for them to spread beyond the initial area of skin. Tests will only be done if the cancer is very large.
Although it is rare for squamous cell cancers to spread, tests to find the stage may be done because in some people they may spread.
A commonly used staging system is outlined below:
Another staging system known as the TNM system is commonly used. This can give more precise information about the extent of the cancer.
Content last reviewed: 1 September 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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