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Stage 1

The stage of a cancer tells the doctor about its size and whether it has spread. The tests and scans you have when diagnosing your cancer give some information about the stage.

Doctors use the stage of a cancer to help them decide on treatment. Your doctor may not be able to tell you the exact stage of your cancer until after your surgery, if you are able to have it.

Doctors can use a number system (stages 1 to 4) or the TNM system to stage your cancer. TNM stands for Tumour, Node, Metastases. 

The information here is about stage 1 pancreatic cancer from the number staging system.

Stage 1 pancreatic cancer means the cancer is not more than 4cm in size and it hasn't spread outside the pancreas. It is split into 1A and 1B.

Stage 1A

Stage 1A means the cancer is completely inside the pancreas and is 2cm or less. There is no cancer in the lymph nodes Open a glossary item or other areas of the body.

In TNM staging, this is the same as T1, N0, M0.

Diagram showing stage 1A cancer of the pancreas

Stage 1B

Stage 1B means the cancer is completely inside the pancreas and is larger than 2cm but no bigger than 4cm. There is no cancer in the lymph nodes or other areas of the body.

In TNM staging, this is the same as T2, N0, M0.

Diagram showing stage 1B cancer of the pancreas

Treatment

The stage of your cancer helps your doctor to decide which treatment you need. Treatment also depends on:

  • your type of cancer (the type of cells the cancer started in)
  • where the cancer is 
  • other health conditions that you have

The stage of the cancer and these other factors can also give an idea of your outlook (prognosis).

Other stages

Last reviewed: 
21 Nov 2019
  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (8th edition)
    American Joint Committee on Cancer
    Springer, 2017