Timing is the key to AJCC clinical and pathologic staging. AJCC stage classification timeframes match the points in time in a patient’s care based on their treatment. All patients undergoing diagnostic work-up for cancer are assigned clinical staging. If the patient has surgical treatment, the managing physician assigns pathologic staging. If the patient receives systemic or radiation therapy, the managing physician assigns posttherapy staging.
The graphic represents the patient care continuum with treatment choices and the resulting stage classifications. The arrows indicate the starting and ending points for information included in that stage.