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ISD Scotland better information, better decisions, better health

Detect Cancer Early


NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland


Cancer staging is the process of determining the extent to which a cancer has developed and spread. This is done by accessing the size of the tumour and whether it has spread to surrounding tissue or other parts of the body. The cancer is assigned a stage from 1 to 4, with 1 indicating it is confined to the original organ in which it occurred and 4 that it has spread beyond local lymph glands and to other organs. Patients diagnosed with stage 1 disease tend to have better outcomes and longer survival compared to patients diagnosed with stage 4 disease.

More information about staging for individual cancers refer to

The percentage of patients with cancer diagnosed with stage 1 disease can vary because of a number of factors including the presence and uptake of national screening programmes. In terms of the DCE programme, only breast and colorectal (bowel) cancer have screening programmes in place.


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