What are the stages of colon cancer and how do you know what stage you're in? From 0 to 4, each stage is based on scores for specific criteria: the tumor (T), growth into the lymph nodes (N), and whether cancer cells have spread, or metastasized, to other tissue and organs (M). T, N, M scores are part of the staging system of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC). The scores classify whether your cancer is in stage 0 through 4. The following slides discuss each stage and diagnostic tests.