Staging is the process doctors use to classify your cancer that describes the size and extent of your cancer. Neuroendocrine cancers of the GI tract, pancreas and lungs are typically staged with the staging system of the American Joint Commission on Cancer (AJCC). This system uses for stages 1 to 4 based on different aspects of your cancer, such as the:
- Tumor (T) - the size and growth of the primary tumor
- Lymph nodes (N) - whether cancer is found in any lymph nodes and how many are involved
- Metastasis (M) – whether cancer has spread to distant sites
What grade is my NET?
In addition to staging your cancer, the pathologist who examines your cancer cells with assign it a grade, from 1 to 3 that describes how different the cancer cells look compared to normal cells and gives your doctor an idea of how aggressive the cancer may be. High grade cancers grow and spread faster than low grade cancers.
- Grade 1 cancers are low grade and the cells are described as “well-differentiated” and look very similar to normal cells. Low grade cancers tend to grow slowly.
- Grade 2 cancers are intermediate grade, although they may appear well-differentiated,” too.
- Grade 3 cancers are high grade, and described as “poorly differentiated,” as they look very different from normal cells. High grade cancers grow quickly.
Is my NET resectable?
An important part of your neuroendocrine tumor diagnosis will be an evaluation of whether the cancer can be removed by surgery. If surgery is deemed an effective option, your tumor is referred to as resectable. If surgery will not be able to accomplish effective removal of your cancer, the tumor is called unresectable and your treatment team will determine other options for you.