Staging is the process of finding out how far the cancer has spread. It is a vital step in determining your treatment choices, and will also give your health care team a clearer idea of the outlook for recovery. Staging can take time, and people are usually anxious to begin treatment soon. Keep in mind that by staging the cancer, you and your health care team will know which treatments are likely to be the most effective before beginning the treatment.
In general, the lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, such as stage IV (4), means a more serious, widespread cancer. After studying your test results, your doctor will determine the stage of your cancer. Be sure to ask any questions you might have about what the stage of your cancer means and how it will impact your treatment options.
Reference: American Cancer Society web page – www.cancer.org