Tumor grading

What is the difference between cancer grades and cancer stages?

Solid organ cancers like lung, breast, prostate and colon cancers are staged. Staging tells us about the degree of spread. But, since primary brain tumors rarely “spread” outside the brain and spinal cord, they are graded. Grading can tell us how aggressive the cancer is.

Grades range from one to four, one being less aggressive, four being most aggressive. Grade one tumors are commonly benign and curable through surgery. However, benign tumors can still be troublesome based on location and operability. Tumors with a grade of three or four are commonly referred to as malignant.

Grading assists in determining the prognosis for the patient and helps us determine treatment options, which might include:

  • Surgery alone
  • Surgery followed by radiation treatment
  • Surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy