Review Article

Fundamentals of Lung Cancer Staging

Marianne Davies, DNP, MSN, CNS, ACNP, AOCNP®

Yale University School of Nursing, West Haven, Connecticut

Author’s disclosures of potential conflicts of interest are found at the end of this article.

Marianne Davies, DNP, MSN, CNS, ACNP, AOCNP®, Yale University School of Nursing, 400 West Campus Drive, PO Box 27399, West Haven, CT 06516. E-mail:

J Adv Pract Oncol 2017;8:25–34 | | © 2017 Harborside Press®



Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States and the world. The treatment of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is dependent on adequate staging of disease at diagnosis. Computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET/CT) provide noninvasive evaluation of the extent of disease. These may be the extent of staging in the case of stage IV disease. However, earlier stages of NSCLC require more extensive surgical staging evaluation. In the past 10 years, minimally invasive procedures utilizing endoscopic and video-assisted techniques have provided the ability to obtain precise staging, with a decrease in cost and morbidity associated with prior invasive procedures, such as mediastinoscopy. Each technique provides information needed for full classification and staging. The American Joint Committee on Cancer tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) staging system is updated regularly to estimate prognosis and selection of appropriate therapy. This review will discuss the staging techniques and classifications necessary to guide the management of patients with newly diagnosed lung cancer.

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