Head & Neck Cancer
Staging & Prognosis of Head & Neck Cancer
The TNM staging system (version 7) is most frequently used to describe the stage of head and neck cancers. T (stands for Tumour) is categorised 1-4 based mainly in size. N (stands for lymph Node) is categorised 1-3 based on size and extent of lymph node spread. M (stands of metastases) whether present or absent.
- T1 < 2 cm
- T2 > 2 to 4 cm
- T3 > 4 cm
- T4 Tumour involves adjacent structures ; T4a Operable disease; T4b Inoperable disease
- N0 No lymphadenopathy
- N1 Ipsilateral single node < 3 cm
- N2 (a) Ipsilateral single node > 3 to 6 cm; (b) Ipsilateral multiple nodes < 6 cm; (c) Bilateral or contralateral nodes < 6 cm
- N3 Nodes > 6 cm
Prognosis for head and neck cancers depends on the extent of spread as above. For small (T1) tumours of favourable site such as larynx, cure rates can approach 95%. For larger tumours and those with lymph node spread, survival rates of 60-70% are anticipated.
For very advanced tumours or those with extensive spread, the survival rates may be very poor with cure rates below 30%. It is important to discuss these issues with your cancer specialist who can give you estimates of success rates based on the medical research literature.