What Is Stage 2 Throat Cancer?

What is Stage 2 throat cancer?

Stage 2 throat cancer can be used to refer to either stage 2 hypopharyngeal or stage 2 oropharyngeal cancer. They are both scenarios where the cancerous tumor has not spread to the lymph nodes, and the cancer has not metastasized to any distant parts of the body.

Illustration of stage 2 throat cancer with anatomy

In stage 2 throat cancer, the tumors are larger than 2 cms and less than 4 cms in size. Stage 2 tumors may have grown into more than one part of the throat, but they have not started invading nearby tissues.

Stage 2 throat cancer in terms of TNM staging (T2 | N0 | M0)

Throat cancer is staged according to the TNM system, developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC). TNM staging principles are based on the following three factors:

  • T – This represents the size of the main tumor, and indicates how far the tumor has grown inside the throat and in nearby tissue areas.
  • N – This represents cancer spread into nearby lymph nodes, and determines  the number and size of the affected lymph nodes.
  • M – This represents the status of metastasis (spread) to distant organs in the body (commonly: the lungs, liver or bones)

Once the T, N and M aspects of the disease have been established via the right diagnostic systems, the information is consolidated to form a group stage for the grade of hypopharyngeal cancer that a specific patient exhibits. This is called the clinical stage of the disease.

T2 (Mid-sized tumor) explained

In stage 2 throat cancer, the tumor is not limited to any one segment of the throat. Stage 2 tumors generally cross the epithelium (the top layer of the cellular lining of the oropharynx), and into deeper layers within the throat, but they have not spread to or invaded into nearby tissue areas.

T2 tumors are sized between 2 cms to 4 cms.

N0 + M0

In stage 2 throat cancer, there is no lymph node involvement and there are no signs of regional or distant metastasis.

Stage 2 throat cancer is also considered highly treatable, but not as much as stage 1 or 0. The treatment modality of choice for stage 2 throat cancer is surgery (with or without radiation to the lymph nodes).

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