Stage 1: Least Serious: The tumor cells are localized to the point of origin, like in the lining of the affected area, which makes most surgical options and other treatments more viable. It is difficult to catch the cancer at this stage, as most people do not have symptoms.
Stage 2: The tumor cells may have spread beyond the point of progin. Regional lymph nodes may be affected. At this point, options for treatment have become more limited. Radiation and chemotherapy may be able to prevent further tumor growth, but will likely not rid the body of existing tumors. Aggressive surgery may be an option. Symptoms are vague and mild, and often misdiagnosed as other illnesses like the flu.
Stage 3: The tumor cells may have spread to several locations near point of origin, including lymph nodes, esophagus, muscle, ribs, heart and chest wall. Treatment options are severely limited and may slow, but not stop, the disease.
Stage 4: Most Serious: The tumor cells have spread to several organs and lymph nodes throughout the body. The body’s major systems have been affected, and organ failure may be possible. Treatment options are limited to making the person as comfortable as possible.