Non small cell lung cancer is usually staged from 1 to 4 using the TNM classification. Unlike non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer is not usually staged using TNM classification. Small cell lung cancer is staged as either limited stage disease or extensive stage disease. Small cell lung cancer patients who are having stage 1 through 3 (excluding those who have plural effusion) are staged as limited stage disease and those
who have either plural effusion or metastatic disease is classified as extensive stage disease.
Staging of lung cancer is determined after determining the extent of the disease using various techniques including CT scan, MRI, PET scan and bone scan. You may read more about the imaging techniques used in lung cancer on our page dealing with on imaging techniques used in cancer.