Staging refers to the process of determining how far the throat cancer has progressed. Stages one through four are used to tell a person how large a tumor is and if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Doctors use different criteria for determining the stage of different types of throat cancers. Generally, stage one indicates smaller tumors that have not spread, while stage four is the most advanced stage. Cancer staging is one factor that doctors consider when developing treatment plans for throat cancer. Earlier stages are more treatable than later stages.