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Assessment and Plan of Treatment

Represents a health professional’s conclusions and working assumptions that will guide treatment of the patient.

Data Element

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Cancer Staging (AJCC TNM)
The AJCC Cancer Staging System describes the severity of an individual's cancer based on the magnitude of the original (primary) tumor as well as on the extent cancer has spread in the body. Understanding the stage of the cancer helps doctors to develop a prognosis and design a treatment plan for individual patients.
The AJCC Cancer Staging System classifies cancers by the size and extent of the primary tumor (T), involvement of regional lymph nodes (N), and the presence or absence of distant metastases (M), supplemented in recent years by evidence-based prognostic and predictive factors. There is a T,N,M staging algorithm for cancers of virtually every anatomic site and histology, with the primary exception of pediatric cancers.
The three categories—T, N, and M—and the prognostic factors collectively describe, with rare exceptions, the extent of tumor, including local spread, regional nodal involvement, and distant metastasis. It is important to stress that each component (T, N, and M) is referred to as a Category. The term stage is used when T, N, and M and cancer site–specific required prognostic factors are combined. The Criteria for T, N, and M are defined separately for cancers in different anatomic locations and/or for different histologic types.


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