Skin Cancer Home > Stages of Skin Cancer

The different stages of skin cancer are based on the size of the growth, how deeply it has grown beneath the top layer of skin, and whether it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Nonmelanoma skin cancer is categorized as stage 0, stage I, stage II, stage III, or stage IV.

An Introduction to Skin Cancer and Staging

After a diagnosis of nonmelanoma skin cancer has been made, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the skin or to other parts of the body. This process is called staging. It is important to know the stage in order to plan appropriate treatment for skin cancer.
A biopsy is often the only test needed to determine the stage of nonmelanoma skin cancer. Lymph nodes may also be examined in cases of squamous cell carcinoma to see if cancer has spread to them.
The stage of skin cancer is based on:
  • The size of the growth
  • How deeply it has grown beneath the top layer of skin
  • Whether the growth has spread to nearby lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.

Stages of Skin Cancer: Stages 0-IV

The following stages are used for nonmelanoma skin cancer:
  • Stage 0
  • Stage I
  • Stage II
  • Stage III
  • Stage IV.
Stage 0 Skin Cancer (Carcinoma in Situ)
In stage 0 skin cancer, cancer is found only in the epidermis (the topmost layer of the skin), which is the layer of cells in which the cancer began. Stage 0 cancer is also called carcinoma in situ.
Stage I Skin Cancer
In stage I skin cancer, the tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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