If biopsy results determine that skin cancer is present, your oncologist will need to know the stage (extent) of the disease. Staging is a careful attempt to learn how thick the tumor is, and if it has spread. If the tumor is thick, the doctor may order additional tests, such as chest x-rays, blood tests, and scans of the liver, bones, and brain.
Knowing the stage of your cancer helps the oncologist:
There might be times when the oncologist needs to check the lymph nodes to stage the cancer (such surgery may be considered part of the treatment because removing cancerous lymph nodes may help control the disease).
The stage of the skin cancer is based on:
Roman numerals I through IV are used to indicate the stage of the cancer. Stage I cancers are small and limited to the area where they began. Stage IV indicates advanced cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.
Doctors use the results from diagnostic tests and scans to answer questions about each patient’s individual cancer and then stage it in the following way:
The following stages are used for melanoma: