The stage of your cancer helps determine your best treatment options. The process of staging determines whether or not your cancer has spread, and, if it has, how far. When skin cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it is more likely to be cured.
Quite often, a biopsy is the only test needed to determine the stage of a non-melanoma cancer. In the case of squamous cell carcinomas, doctors often examine the surrounding lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread.
The cancer is found only in the epidermis (the topmost layer of your skin). This is called carcinoma “in situ.”
The tumor is no larger than 2 centimeters (about 3/4 of an inch).
The tumor is larger than 2 centimeters (about 3/4 of an inch) but less than 5 centimeters (about 2 inches).
The tumor has spread below the skin to cartilage, muscle or bone, and to nearby lymph nodes, but not to other parts of the body.
The tumor has spread to other places in the body.