Understanding a Cancer Diagnosis: Staging vs. Grading

Identifying the stage and grade of a cancer patient’s tumors can help doctors determine a course of treatment and predict the chance of a cure. For patients and family, keeping up with the cancer diagnosis can be difficult and agonizing.

Something cancer experts encounter in delivering a diagnosis is confusion over cancer staging vs. cancer grading. Staging is a process that doctors use to describe how far cancer has spread. Grading is a process that helps predict how fast the cancer will grow and spread.

Overview of Cancer Stages
In general, the stages of most cancers break down this way:

  • Stage 0: Cancer hasn’t spread.
  • Stages I, II, and III: Cancer has grown or has spread into nearby tissues and perhaps lymph nodes. The higher the stage, the farther the cancer has spread.
  • Stage IV: Cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes into other parts of the body (metastasized).

Although there are several methods of staging, most doctors now use the TNM method. The TNM method is based on the size of the tumor (T), the spread of the cancer into nearby lymph nodes (N), and the spread of the cancer to other body parts (M, for metastasis). Most cancers can be described using the TNM system. But certain cancers—for example, cancers of the blood, bone marrow, or brain—use other staging systems.

Overview of Tumor Grades
A tumor’s grade, from 1 to 4, describes how its cells look under a microscope. The more these cells look like normal cells, the lower the grade and the lower the likelihood that the cancer will spread quickly. Tumor cells that look like normal cells are called grade 1 tumors. They usually grow slowly. A grade 4 tumor, on the other hand, has cells that look very different from normal cells. Grade 4 tumors often grow quickly and spread rapidly.

For certain types of cancer, doctors use other grading methods. For example, in prostate cancer, the doctor gives the cancer a Gleason score. Prostate cancer cells that have a low Gleason score grow more slowly than cells that have a higher score.

Cancer Care in Hampton Roads, Virginia

Each aspect of the Bon Secours interdisciplinary approach to cancer care addresses specific issues related to the prevention of cancer, treatment for cancer, and recovery from cancer. When you hear the words cancer you may not know what to do next, but we do. Our world-class cancer surgeons, cancer treatment centers, nurse navigators and cancer specialists are ready to stand by your side through your cancer fight.

Their state-of-the art facility, the Martha C. Davis Cancer Treatment Center, in Portsmouth, Virginia features the TrueBeam™ linear accelerator system, one of the most advanced radiotherapy treatment options in the nation. This cancer treatment technology combines imaging, beam delivery and sophisticated technology to accurately target tumors with great speed and precision. Real-time imaging allows clinicians to “see” the tumor, while beam delivery is synchronized with the patient’s breathing.

The Virginia Department of Health’s Division of COPN has issued a staff report recommending conditional approval for a certificate of public need (COPN) to relocate Bon Secours’ radiation therapy services currently on the campus of Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center to establish a comprehensive cancer center. The 31,500 square foot, $10 million institute will be home to a radiation therapy center that will include the Varian True Beam linear accelerator and a 16-slice wide-bore CT scanner for simulation treatment planning in conjunction with radiation therapy. In addition to radiation therapy services, the new center will co-locate supportive services, such as a resource center, an appearance center, educational space, and complementary services such as clinics, infusion centers, etc.

Source: Healthwise: Cancer Staging and Grading

Speak Your Mind