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Disease & Drug Information

Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Staging

If the biopsy shows that you have cancer, your doctor needs to know the extent (stage) of the disease. In very few cases, the doctor may check your lymph nodes to stage the cancer.

The stage is based on:

  • The size of the growth
  • How deeply it has grown beneath the top layer of skin
  • Whether it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or to other parts of the body

These are the stages of skin cancer:

  • Stage 0: The cancer involves only the top layer of skin. It is carcinoma in situ.
  • Stage I: The growth is 2 centimeters wide (three-quarters of an inch) or smaller.
  • Stage II: The growth is larger than 2 centimeters wide (three-quarters of an inch).
  • Stage III: The cancer has spread below the skin to cartilage, muscle, bone, or to nearby lymph nodes. It has not spread to other places in the body.
  • Stage IV: The cancer has spread to other places in the body.