Staging is crucial to determining the sequence of your cancer treatment.

How Are Head & Neck Cancers Staged?

Pathology tests help determine the tumor’s stage and grade — two classifications that are very important for choosing the most effective cancer treatment and predicting how the disease will progress.

The stage describes the location of the tumor and how far it has spread — to the lymph nodes, other areas of your neck, or distant parts of your body. Staging is done by combining information from the pathology report, physical exam, and radiologic exams (x-rays, CT, and MRI).

The grade describes how abnormal the cancer cells look when compared with normal cells and how quickly they are dividing, which could indicate an aggressive cancer. Together, grading and staging will determine whether you have aggressive disease. If so, you might want to consider more aggressive treatment.

How are head & neck cancers treated?