Staging for solid tumours

To give your child the best treatment, the medical team needs to know where the cancer is in your child's body. Staging is the way that doctors find out the extent of your child's cancer.

The doctor will order a number of tests to see what stage the tumour has reached. Once the stage of the cancer is known, you and your child's doctor can talk about the best treatment plan.

The site where the cancer started is called the primary tumour. Cancer cells may spread to tissue around the primary tumour or break away and spread to other parts of the body (metastasis). Cancers which start in one place and spread to other sites are called metastatic tumours.

In general, the following stages are used to describe the extent of childhood cancer (how big it is and how far it has spread). 

Different cancers have specific staging systems which you can discuss with your child’s doctor. 

Stage 1

The cancer has not spread to other parts of the body and is only in one place. 

Stage 2

The cancer has spread locally beyond the main tumour. The cancer may have spread to tissues or a lymph node close to the primary tumour. 

Stage 3

The tumour is very large and difficult to remove with surgery. 

Stage 4

The cancer has spread beyond the primary tumour to distant parts of the body. 

Last updated Wednesday 26th June 2024