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Purpose of Staging

There are several reasons for staging cancer cases. One reason is that the need for staging places a responsibility on the medical practitioner to adequately assess the extent of cancer in order to treat the disease in the most appropriate manner. Another reason is that knowing the extent of disease assists the physician to determine the most appropriate treatment to cure the disease, decrease the tumor burden, or relieve symptoms.

Staging is also used to indicate prognosis for an individual patient. Data from historical sources can provide an estimate of the expected survival rate for a particular cancer with a corresponding extent of disease. Of course, histology and grade of tumor, patient demographics such as age, sex, and race, and the efficacy of therapy all play a part in determining the patient's prognosis and quality of survival.

Staging provides a means of comparing local treatment results with national data based on common criteria for the extent of disease. Staging expedites the exchange of data and assists in the continuing research on cancer. Health information records are the primary source of documentation for staging information.