Table of contents:
- What is TNM classification?
- Why do you need to know the stage of cancer?
- The fourth stage is not a sentence
Over the past decades, there has been an increase in oncological diseases. Oncology is a whole group of often completely dissimilar diseases, which, unfortunately, literally anyone can face. Children and old people, men and women, supporters of a healthy lifestyle and those who do not adhere to it, residents of prosperous regions and places with poor ecology - all are defenseless against these insidious diseases.
Denis Sergeevich Romanov Candidate of Medical Sciences, radiotherapist of the federal network of expert oncology clinics = "_blank"> "Euroonco"
But there is good news: not only the incidence of cancer is growing, but also our ability to fight them. Technologies are being improved, new drugs are emerging, and doctors are more effective in using the above in the fight for the life and health of their patients.
What is TNM classification?
One of the important tools of the oncologist is the classification of the stages of malignant diseases, which helps to determine the patient's prognosis at the examination stage and select the correct amount of treatment and the sequence of stages of its implementation.
In the medical environment, there is a universal means of communication that allows oncologists around the world to "speak the same language." This is an international classification of the stages of malignant tumors TNM. It is needed in order to describe the prevalence of the tumor process as accurately as possible and, accordingly, correctly distribute it into the prognostic group.
In the abbreviation of the TNM classification, T (Tumor) means a description of the primary neoplasm itself, including its size, distribution in the affected organ and - if any - in neighboring organs, N (Nodus) - the presence or absence, as well as additional characteristics of metastases in regional lymph nodes, and M (Metastasis) - the presence and sometimes the location of distant metastases.
When designating a stage, a corresponding number and addition are assigned to each of the three letters. For most oncological diseases, their own approaches to determining the stages have been developed, for example, in breast cancer and prostate cancer, they differ significantly.
Why do you need to know the stage of cancer?
Determining the stage of the tumor process is the most important task of the oncologist after receiving the results of a histological (and sometimes cytological) study. She is needed in order to prescribe the correct treatment and understand, for example, whether chemotherapy will be enough or whether an operation will have to be performed.
The lower the initial stage, the greater the likelihood of achieving remission and the lower the risk of developing a relapse or progression of the disease. If it turns out to reveal the presence of a precancerous condition, then there is a high probability of preventing the development of a malignant tumor at all.
Finding cancer in situ (i.e., pre-invasive cancer) can be considered a lot of luck. If the disease is detected in the first or second stage, the chances of full recovery are maximum, while achieving remission will most likely be easier and faster than in the third or fourth stage.
The fourth stage is not a sentence
The first and second stages in most cases correspond to a small tumor size within one organ or with minimal involvement of regional lymph nodes. It also happens that older patients who have other concomitant diseases, doctors offer careful observation without treatment. This is because the tumor may not affect the patient's lifespan.Such a decision can only be made by a doctor, and, moreover, having received such an opinion, one should nevertheless confirm it in the framework of the second and even third consultation with other specialists.
Such a clinical situation should not be confused with the banal refusal of a doctor to treat a difficult patient, and even more so with the wording “after seventy, there is no need to treat oncological diseases”.
The third stage is considered quite late, but it still gives a fairly good chance for the patient to achieve long-term remission and even complete recovery. At this stage, the disease most often either has already gone beyond the primary organ or significantly affected the regional lymph nodes (or both happened). In this case, you need to act faster, since the chance of developing distant metastases becomes higher than in the first and second stages, and the effect of the disease on the patient's quality of life is also usually more pronounced.
The fourth stage is the highest. It most often indicates the presence of distant metastases, although in some diseases it is determined by high values of T and N. The patient's prospects are definitely worse than in earlier stages, but this does not mean at all that remission cannot be achieved or even the disease cannot be cured. This can be achieved, although much more difficult. Nevertheless, examples of patients who live for decades after the detection of distant metastases are not at all uncommon.
Those who are faced with this disease and their relatives do not need to focus on the stage of the process in any way. Sometimes aggressive tumors detected even at the first stage, unfortunately, do not respond to treatment or progress rapidly. There are very well responding to treatment and very little aggressive tumors in the fourth stage. Only a doctor can correctly assess all the significant factors associated with the disease, which we are discovering more and more, in particular, the genetic nuances of tumor cells, and prescribe the optimal treatment to achieve success in the fight against the disease.
New methods are helping to fight very rare types of cancer, which not every doctor has heard of. In addition, the emergence of new approaches in therapy makes it possible to achieve much better results in the treatment of fairly common cancers, such as breast cancer.