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How do doctors categorize urinary system cancers?

Doctors categorize urinary system cancers using a staging system that is based on how much the cancer has grown and spread within the body. A person's treatment plan and predicted survival rate will be based on the stage of their particular case of urinary system cancer. For urinary system cancers, such as bladder or kidney cancer, most doctors use a staging system designed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC), which is also known as the TNM system because it uses T to indicate tumor size or how far the tumor has grown, N to indicate whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and M to indicate whether the cancer has metastasized or spread to other organs. Numbers or letters are combined with T, N, and M to provide such details as severity and availability of relevant information. After the T, N, and M categories are determined, the cancer is assigned a stage using a four-level staging system of I, II, III, or IV. Sometimes an additional lower level of 0 is included in this staging system, such as with bladder cancer. The lower the stage, the better the outlook for the person with the cancer in terms of treatment options and projected survival rate.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.