What is the TNM (tumor-node-metastasis) staging system for non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?

Updated: Jul 15, 2021
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Nagla Abdel Karim, MD, PhD  more...
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Answer

A chest CT scan is the standard for staging lung cancer. The TNM (tumor-node-metastasis) staging system from the American Joint Committee for Cancer Staging and End Results Reporting is used for all lung carcinomas except small-cell lung cancer. The TNM takes into account the following key pieces of information:

  • T describes the size of the primary tumor
  • N describes the spread of cancer to regional lymph nodes
  • M indicates whether the cancer has metastasized

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