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The stages of carcinoid tumour

Men and women discussing carcinoid cancer

This page tells you about the stages of carcinoid (neuroendocrine tumours).

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

The stages of carcinoid tumour

The stage of a cancer tells doctors how far it has grown or spread. This is important, as the stage and the location of the carcinoid often decide the treatment. Both stage and location help to inform you and your doctor about the likely risk of the carcinoid coming back after treatment.

Doctors usually stage carcinoid using the number staging system and the TNM staging system.

The number staging system divides carcinoid into 4 main groups, with stage 1 being the earliest and 4 the most advanced.

The TNM staging system stands for tumour, node metastasis. It describes

  • the size and position of the tumour (T)
  • whether the cells have spread to the lymph nodes (N)
  • whether the tumour has spread to another part of the body (M)

The staging systems vary depending on where the tumour started, for example the appendix, small bowel or lung. Your doctor or nurse will tell you more about this.

For carcinoid of the digestive (gastro intestinal) system, your doctor may also stage it simply into one of 3 groups

  • Localised carcinoid – the carcinoid tumour has not spread through the wall of the organ it started in (for example, the bowel, stomach or appendix)
  • Regional carcinoid – the carcinoid has gone through the wall of the organ it developed in and is now in the surrounding tissue
  • Metastatic carcinoid – the carcinoid has spread to another part of the body from where it started, for example the liver or lungs

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating carcinoid section.

 

 

What staging is

The stage of a cancer tells doctors how far the cancer has grown or spread. This is important, as the stage and the position of the carcinoid in the body often decides the treatment. 

The tests and scans you had when diagnosing your carcinoid will give your doctor some information about the stage. Sometimes it's not possible to be completely sure of the stage until after surgery, if appropriate.

 

Number and TNM staging systems

Doctors usually stage carcinoid using the number staging system and the TNM staging system.

You are most likely to be told the number stage of your cancer. This system divides carcinoid into 4 main groups, depending on the tumour size and how far it has spread. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 4 is the most advanced.

The TNM staging system stands for tumour, node and metastasis. It describes

  • the size and position of the tumour (T)
  • whether the cells have spread to the lymph nodes (N)
  • whether the tumour has spread to another part of the body (M)

Both staging systems vary depending on where the tumour started, for example the appendix, small bowel or lung. Your doctor or nurse will give you more information about this.

 

Simple staging for carcinoid of the digestive system

Your doctor may also stage carcinoid of the digestive (gastro intestinal) system simply by putting it into 1 of 3 groups

  • Localised carcinoid – the carcinoid tumour has not spread through the wall of the organ it started in (for example, the bowel, stomach or appendix) to anywhere else
  • Regional carcinoid – the carcinoid has gone through the wall of the organ it developed in and is now in the surrounding tissue, such as fat, muscle or lymph nodes
  • Metastatic carcinoid – the carcinoid has spread to another part of the body, for example the liver or lungs
 

Staging for carcinoid of the lung

Lung carcinoid is staged the same way as other types of lung cancer (carcinomas), using both the number and TNM staging systems. We have detailed information about these staging systems in our lung cancer section. Remember to come back to the carcinoid section of the website if you want other information about carcinoid, such as treatment.

Read about staging for lung cancer.

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Updated: 4 July 2016