Stage 4

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 4 pancreatic cancer from the number staging system.

Stage 4 means that the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, such as the liver or lungs.

Diagram showing M1 pancreatic cancer from the TNM staging system

Your doctor might call this advanced (metastatic) cancer.

In TNM staging, this is the same as Any T, Any N, M1.


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).


  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (8th edition)
    American Joint Committee on Cancer
    Springer, 2017

Last reviewed: 
21 Nov 2019

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