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Cholangiocarcinoma Staging

What Staging Means

Stage is the word doctors use to communicate the size of a cancerous tumor and where and how far it has spread. The first place cancer is found in the body is called the primary site or primary tumor. When a cancer spreads to distant parts of the body, it is said to have metastasized. There are two types of stages of cancer, clinical and pathological.
The clinical stage helps your doctor decide on the best treatment options for you. For bile duct cancer, your clinical stage is determined from biopsies and imaging tests.
The pathological stage is determined based on examination of your bile duct after it is removed by surgery. Sometimes the pathological stage is higher because the tumor has spread more than was expected during clinical staging.

The Stages of Bile Duct Cancer

By using exams and tests, a doctor can tell the stage of the bile duct cancer. A cancer's stage is one of the most important factors in deciding what treatment to have for the cancer. Both the International Union Against Cancer and the American Joint Committee on Cancer have developed a standard way to find out how much a cancer has grown. This system is known as the TNM system.

The TNM system is a standard system for describing the extent of a cancer's growth. Here's what the letters stand for in the TNM system.

Stage Groupings of Bile Duct Cancer

Once your T, N, and M stages have been determined, your doctor puts them together in a stage grouping. This is used to determine your overall cancer stage. Stage grouping is shown in Roman numerals going from 0 (the earliest stage) to IV (the most advanced stage). The following are the stage groupings used for extrahepatic bile duct cancer--the most common type of bile duct cancer, which occurs in the part of the bile duct outside the liver.


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