Staging and prognosis for anal cancer

Your doctor will work out the stage of the anal cancer based on the results of various tests. Staging helps the doctor plan the best treatment for you. 

The expected outcome of the cancer is called the prognosis, but it is only a prediction and some people do not find it helpful or even prefer not to know.

Staging anal cancer

Staging describes how far the cancer has spread. Knowing the stage helps doctors plan the best treatment for you. Anal cancer is staged using the TNM (Tumour Nodes Metastasis) system.

  • T (Tumour) 0–4 – Indicates how far the tumour has grown into the bowel wall and nearby areas. T1 is a smaller tumour; T4 is a larger tumour.
  • N (Nodes) 0–3 – Shows if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes (small glands). N0 means no cancer is in the lymph nodes; N1 means cancer is in the lymph nodes around the rectum; N2 means cancer is in pelvic and/or groin lymph nodes on one side; N3 means cancer is in both pelvic and groin lymph nodes on one side, or on both sides.
  • M (Metastasis) 0–1 – Shows if the cancer has spread to other, distant parts of the body. M0 means cancer has not spread; M1 means cancer has spread.

This information was last reviewed in June 2018
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