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The 3 C's of Cancer Care

The 3 C's of Cancer Care

By Bonnie Hillman

Dec 2, 2015

Updated Oct 25, 2023

5 min read

old woman and nurse

Even if all cancer cells are not removed from the body, comfort and control is possible.

Surgery is the first line of defense against cancer. Sometimes surgery is not possible because the cancer is in many places or surgery cannot remove all the disease. In this case, cancer therapies help shrink tumors and slow new growth from happening.

Cancer doctors use a system called TNM to determine the stage of a cancer: 

T = Tumor size

N= lymph nodes

M= metastatic

Metastatic means cancer has spread beyond where it started.

A tumor larger than 2 centimeters (about the size of a peanut) is a T2 tumor. A T1 tumor is smaller than 2 centimeters. If lymph nodes contain cancer cells, the N has a number after it (N1, N2, N3). The designation of M1 is for cancer that is metastatic. Advanced cancer or cancer that comes back in other parts of the body is stage IV disease.

There are several factors that go into determining the goal of cancer treatments. When people understand the goal, they can set priorities so they can do the things that are important to them and live the best life possible.

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