Stage 3

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 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 3 pancreatic cancer from the number staging system.

Stage 3 can mean that the cancer is any size within the pancreas and has spread to 4 or more nearby lymph nodes Open a glossary item.

In TNM staging, this is the same as T1, 2 or 3, N2, M0.

Diagram showing stage 3 cancer of the pancreas

Or stage 3 can mean the cancer has started to grow outside the pancreas into the major blood vessels nearby. It may or may not have spread into the lymph nodes. It hasn't spread to any other areas of the body.

In TNM staging, this is the same as T4, Any N, M0.

Diagram showing an example of stage 3 cancer of the pancreas

Stage 3 cancer may also be called locally advanced cancer.


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

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