Detecting the stage of particular skin cancer helps in its treatment and helps understand the severity of the disease. For instance, early-stage skin cancer is treatable and does not pose much threat. A doctor determines the stage of skin cancer considering the following factors:
- Size of the tumour.
- Whether it has spread to lymph nodes.
- Spread to other parts of the body.
Considering these, there are two categories of skin cancers for staging: nonmelanoma and melanoma.
The nonmelanoma skin cancer stages include:
- 0: The cancerous cells have not spread beyond the epidermis, which is the skin's outermost protective layer.
- I: Cancerous cells may have spread to the dermis, but not longer than 2 centimetres.
- II: The cancer is more than 2 centimetres in length but has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes.
- III: It has spread from the primary tumour to the nearby tissues or bones and is larger than 3 centimetres.
- IV: Cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes and organs much beyond the primary tumour site. It is also larger than 3 centimetres.
Apart from this, the melanoma skin cancer stages include:
- 0: When cancer has not penetrated below the epidermis.
- I: Penetration to the dermis might occur, but cancer remains smaller in size.
- II: The spread of cancer has not occurred beyond the primary tumour site, but it has grown bigger, thicker and might show other signs like scaling, bleeding, or flaking.
- III: Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or nearby skins or tissues.
- IV: This is the most advanced stage where cancer has spread to the distant organs and tissues beyond the primary site.
Also, it is important to note that skin cancers can recur at any point in time. Therefore, it is essential to carry on follow-up care and self-examinations.