Diagnosis and Staging

The doctor will want to learn the stage (or extent) of the cancer. The stage tells whether the cancer has spread and, if so, to which parts of the body.

Staging is based on the results of a series of tests and biopsies of the areas affected by the tumor. Staging may require a careful examination of the tumor in the operating room while you are asleep. Using a series of instruments, the doctor looks at your:

  • Breathing tubes (bronchi)
  • Nose
  • Swallowing tube (esophagus)
  • Throat
  • Voice box

Biopsies are often done during the examination.

Knowing the stage of the disease helps the doctor plan your treatment. The number and type of specialists involved in your treatment will depend on the location, type, size, and stage of the cancer.