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Ed_PortOrange's picture
Posts: 110
Joined: Jun 2010

My diagnosis was T4aN2b,SCCA L. Is there a site that explains what the code actually means? I've done some searches on the web with no success.


Bigfuzzydoug's picture
Posts: 154
Joined: Jul 2010

T = stage (1 best to 4 worst). Yours is a challenge to overcome.
N = lymphatic system impact. It's in neck node 2b. (I think there are 8 nodes on each side of your neck.)
SCCA = Squamous cell carcinoma. It started in the mucous lining of your throat.
There should also be an M = metastisis. If it's spread or not. The answer would probably be yes since you have something identified in a neck lymph node.

This isn't an instant death sentence. Many people have beaten worse cancers. The key is not to dwell on why, stay positive, listen to your doctors and catalog all information as detailed as possible. Having 1 or 2 others go with you to appointments, people who can be objective really help. Taping your appointments with a micro cassette recorder can help.

And of course the people here can be a HUGE help and really great support structure! I would also recommend signing up at www.livestrong.org and getting the Livestrong Guidebook and Workbook (free, just pay for shipping). There's a ton of good information in them for new survivors who just got their diagnosis.

Good luck! We're with you! You're not alone!

Greg53's picture
Posts: 848
Joined: Apr 2010


Google TNM Staging and you should find plenty of info. Here's a sample:

"TNM Staging System
In the TNM staging system, each type of cancer is assigned a "T" category, an "N" category and an "M" category. The letters in TNM staging represent the following:

T stands for Tumor. T staging gives details about the original tumor (the first tumor found, before spreading may have occurred).
TX means the tumor cannot be evaluated.
T0 means there is no evidence of an original tumor.
Tis means the cancer is "in situ," or, has not spread.
T1 through T4 describe the tumor size and status of spreading. The bigger the number, the worse the tumor is.
N stands for Nodes. N staging determines whether or not the cancer has spread into nearby lymph nodes .
NX means the nearby lymph nodes cannot be evaluated.
N0 means there is no evidence of cancer in the nearby lymph nodes.
N1 through N3 describe the status of the spreading into the lymph nodes (for instance, the location, size and number of lymph nodes affected). The higher the number, the worse the status of the lymph nodes.
M stands for Metastasis. M staging determines if the cancer has metastasized , or spread, beyond the lymph nodes into other parts of the body (also known as distant metastasis, or distant spreading).
MX means distant spreading cannot be evaluated.
M0 means there is no evidence of distant spreading.
M1 means distant spreading has been found"

Positive thoughts coming at ya!

RushFan's picture
Posts: 223
Joined: Aug 2010

Thanks for the staging breakdown. I was told what it all meant early on, but the brain loses focus on these things sometimes.

I was T0 Nx (N2b) M0.

Posts: 101
Joined: Jun 2008


I was diagnosed as T2N2cM0. In other words my primary tumor was somewhat smaller than yours but my node involvement was more substantial. We are both stage IVa. Three years post-treatment and doing well. Treatment isn't a walk in the park but you can beat this and get on with the rest of a long life. There are many stage IV survivors out there and you can look forward to joining us. Feel free to ask more questions. Wishing you the best of health, Rich

Ed_PortOrange's picture
Posts: 110
Joined: Jun 2010

In 3 days I'll be 5 months post treatment. From the very beginning back in January when I went for my second opinion at the University of Florida, Shands Cancer Center and was informed that I was Stage IV and nodes were involved we knew that it was serious. It's basically all the wife and I heard, everything else was a blur, except how do we treat it and when do we start. Had 22 days of single Rads and 10 days of double dose, am & pm. This was coupled with a Monday Erbitux treatment for 6 weeks. So I'm way past the tough part and feel like I'm getting better every day and adjusting to the new normal.

The reason I asked the question is because I've seen so many people post their diagnosis and wanted to know more. (thanks Greg for the link & explanation.) My only regret at this point is that I didn't find this site until June. Everyone that posts here is such an inspiration and I know that we can & will beat this and enjoy many more years to come.

Thanks for being a very special group.

God Bless

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