This is the third part of our series about the condition based on our patient booklet “Fast Facts for Patients and their Supporters: Advanced Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma”. This article explains the staging of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.

Cancer staging is a way of describing how much a cancer has grown or spread. Staging your cSCC will help your medical team share information with you about treatment options and your outlook.

cSCC is staged using a system called TNM:

  • T describes how advanced your Tumor is, from T1 (least advanced) to T4 (most advanced).
  • N describes whether your cSCC has spread to your lymph Nodes: N1 or higher means your lymph nodes contain cancer.
  • M describes any Metastatic cancer at places other than the lymph nodes: M1 means the cSCC has spread.

Your T, N and M scores are combined into your overall stage. Tumor in situ or Tis means there are abnormal cells present, but the cancerous cells are confined to the epidermal layer and have not invaded the dermis.

Staging Procedures Are not Always Needed

Not all cSCCs need imaging or sentinel lymph node biopsy – it depends on the initial features. If the risk of the cancer spreading is low, it  may be that the risks of imaging or biopsy outweigh any benefit.

Working Out Your Cancer Stage

T score

N score

M score and tumor staging


Please check out the other posts of our series here:


Information based on Fast Facts for Patients and their Supporters: Advanced Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma (Karger, 2020).

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