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Development of cancer is divided into stages. Staging helps design proper treatment for the patient. Each year, millions of people are diagnosed with cancer worldwide. Detection of the condition in early stages helps increase the life expectancy of the patient. Usually, it is easier to remove cancer when it is in the initial stage. Thus, the growth of cancerous cells can be controlled. It is comparatively difficult to treat it, if it has reached the third or fourth stage.

Staging

Every cancer is divided into four or five stages. "Carcinoma in situ" or "stage zero" is the initial stage of cancer. If some abnormal cells are detected during screening, the condition is termed as "carcinoma in situ". These abnormal cells are likely to develop into cancerous cells. So the patient has to keep a watch on the growth of these cells by undergoing certain tests at regular intervals. Pap smear testing has successfully helped in lowering the percentage of cervical cancer in women, as the test helps detect "carcinoma in situ". Breast cancer is believed to be the "best cancer" as it can be treated and removed easily when detected in earlier stages.

First Stage: Growth of cancerous cells in the form of very small tumors is termed as stage one. There exist several types of cancers, and experts have determined the sizes of tumors for each stage for each type. During the first stage, cancer is confined to the local area (the area or organ of its origin).

Second Stage: During the second stage, the size of the tumor and the number of tumors increase. The cancer starts invading the nearby lymph nodes. Some cancers are aggressive, and they spread quickly. Some may spread very slowly.

Third Stage: During the third stage, more number of lymph nodes are invaded by the cancer. It starts attacking the nearby organs too.

Fourth Stage: This is the last stage of cancer. Through the tissues, blood, or lymphatic system, it spreads towards distant lymph nodes and distant organs. As it spreads into bones, liver, brain, etc. body systems start to collapse. Dysfunction of various organs leads to death.

Survival Rate

Stage 3 and stage 4 can be described as advanced stages of cancer. Depending upon the type and sub-type of cancer, age, overall health of the patient, availability of advanced treatment, and the race of the patient (genetic disposition), etc., even stage 3 cancer can be cured. There are chances of recurrence, but with proper treatment and follow-up, the life expectancy of the patient can be increased significantly. Thus, the prognosis for the third stage is not always bad. The rate of survival varies according to the factors mentioned above. Elderly people may have poorer survival rates regardless of the stage at the time of diagnosis.

Type of CancerFive Year Survival Rate for Stage 3
Bladder CancerAbout 46-50%
Myeloma CancerAbout 10-25%
Cervical CancerAbout 56-70%
Ovarian CancerAbout 40-43%
Colon CancerAbout 44-83%
Breast CancerAbout 54-67%
Uterus CancerAbout 30-40%
Vaginal CancerAbout 20-30%
Prostate CancerAbout 70-80%
Lung CancerAbout 10-23%

Stage 3 cancer prognosis is not as bad as that for the stage 4. The exact life expectancy of a cancer patient cannot be told, using the above figures. These figures are just for reference. Every cancer patient is unique. The life expectancy can be significantly improved with the help of prompt and proper treatment, which mainly involves surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and use of pain killers. With love, affection, and moral support of the family and friends, cancer patients can fight cancer with positive attitude. Dealing with the condition is easier if the patient has strong mind along with strong body.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.