Patients diagnosed with gallbladder cancer may find it challenging to understand the jargon surrounding their cancer. Terms like a tumour, node and metastasis essential to describe cancer stages may sound alien to patients’ ears, causing miscommunication or misunderstanding. Therefore, Dr. Soumen Das, a gallbladder cancer doctor in Kolkata, explains the essential terms and the different gallbladder cancer stages.
What is Staging?
Staging is the method of describing the location of cancer, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting other body parts. Doctors use several diagnostic tests to find out the cancer stage. Knowing the cancer stage helps doctors choose the best gallbladder cancer treatment in Kolkata and predict patients’ chance of recovery and average life expectancy.
What is TNM Staging System?
A TNM system is a tool that doctors usually use to describe the stage is the
Primary questions answered by diagnostic tests – What is the size of the primary tumour? Where is it located?
Doctors use “T” plus a letter or number (0 to 4) to describe the amount of cancer found in the gallbladder.
Primary questions answered by diagnostic tests – Has the tumour extended and spread to the lymph nodes? If so, where and how many?
“N” stands for lymph nodes. These are small, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection. Lymph nodes located near the gallbladder are called regional lymph nodes and the ones found in other body parts are called distant lymph nodes.
Doctors use “N” plus a letter or number (0 to 2) to describe whether cancer has spread to regional or distant lymph nodes.
Primary questions answered by diagnostic tests – Has cancer extended and spread to other parts of the body? If so, where and how much?
Doctors use “M” plus a number (0 or 1) to describe whether cancer has spread to other body parts.
Cancer Stage Grouping
Doctors assign the cancer stages to patients by combining the T, N, and M classifications.
Stage 0 – In this stage, a tumour remains in a pre-invasive state (Tis) and its spread, if any, is very confined (N0, M0).
Stage 1 – In this stage, a tumour remains confined within the gallbladder (T1) and does not spread to lymph nodes or other body parts (N0, M0).
Stage 2 – In this stage, a tumour extends to the peri-muscular connective tissue (T2) but does not spread elsewhere (N0, M0).
Stage 3A – In this stage, a tumour spreads beyond the gallbladder (T3) but not to nearby arteries or veins. It does not extend to lymph nodes or other parts of the body (N0, M0).
Stage 3B – In this stage, a tumour of any size (T1, T2, T3) spreads to nearby lymph nodes but not to nearby veins or arteries or other body parts (N0, M0).
Stage 4A – In this stage, a tumour spreads to nearby veins, arteries (T4) and/or nearby lymph nodes, but not to other body parts (N0 or N1, M0).
Stage 4B – In this stage, a tumour spreads to other body parts (any T, any N, M1) or distant lymph nodes, even if it does not spread to distant organs (any T, N2, M0).
According to Dr. Soumen Das, a gallbladder cancer surgeon in Kolkata, gallbladder cancer patients should be clear about their cancer stage and ask questions to their doctor upon any confusion. Having a clear idea about their cancer stage will allow patients to make better decisions regarding their treatment and recovery.