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Grading (tumors)

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Title: Grading (tumors)  
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Subject: Prostate cancer staging, Grade, TNM staging system, Oncology, Nottingham Prognostic Index
Collection: Oncology, Pathology
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Grading (tumors)

In pathology, grading is a measure of the cell appearance in tumors and other neoplasms. Some pathology grading systems apply only to malignant neoplasms (cancer); others apply also to benign neoplasms. The neoplastic grading is a measure of cell anaplasia (reversion of differentiation) in the sampled tumor and is based on the resemblance of the tumor to the tissue of origin.[1] Grading in cancer is distinguished from staging, which is a measure of the extent to which the cancer has spread.

Pathology grading systems classify the microscopic cell appearance abnormality and deviations in their rate of growth with the goal of predicting developments at tissue level (see also the 4 major histological changes in dysplasia).

Cancer is a disorder of cell life cycle alteration that leads (non-trivially) to excessive cell proliferation rates, typically longer cell lifespans and poor differentiation. The grade score (numerical: G1 up to G4) increases with the lack of cellular differentiation - it reflects how much the tumor cells differ from the cells of the normal tissue they have originated from (see 'Categories' below). Tumors may be graded on four-tier, three-tier, or two-tier scales, depending on the institution and the tumor type.

The histologic tumor grade score along with the metastatic (whole-body-level cancer-spread) staging are used to evaluate each specific cancer patient, develop their individual treatment strategy and to predict their prognosis. A cancer that is very poorly differentiated is called anaplastic.


  • Categories 1
    • Specific systems 1.1
  • Examples of grading schemes 2
  • Tumor volume estimation 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Grading systems are also different for many common types of cancer, though following a similar pattern with grades being increasingly malignant over a range of 1 to 4. If no specific system is used, the following general grades are most commonly used, and recommended by the American Joint Commission on Cancer and other bodies:[2]

  • GX Grade cannot be assessed
  • G1 Well differentiated (Low grade)
  • G2 Moderately differentiated (Intermediate grade)
  • G3 Poorly differentiated (High grade)
  • G4 Undifferentiated (High grade)

Specific systems

Of the many cancer-specific schemes, the Gleason system,[3] named after Donald Floyd Gleason, used to grade the adenocarcinoma cells in prostate cancer is the most famous. This system uses a grading score ranging from 2 to 10. Lower Gleason scores describe well-differentiated less aggressive tumors.

Other systems include the Bloom-Richardson grading system for breast cancer and the Fuhrman system for kidney cancer. Invasive front grading is useful as well in oral squamous cell carcinoma.[4]

Examples of grading schemes

Four-tier grading scheme
Grade 1 Low grade Well-differentiated
Grade 2 Intermediate grade Moderately differentiated
Grade 3 High grade Poorly differentiated
Grade 4 Anaplastic Anaplastic
Three-tier grading scheme
Grade 1 Low grade Well-differentiated
Grade 2 Intermediate grade
Grade 3 High grade Poorly differentiated
Two-tier grading scheme
Grade 1 Low grade Well-differentiated
Grade 2 High grade Poorly differentiated

Tumor volume estimation

Experimental cancer studies involve the implantation of tumors subcutaneously in mice. Such studies require a simple mechanism by which to evaluate tumor burden. One such method is to approximate the tumor shape by a spheroid. Two researchers blindly measure the tumor length L and width W, in millimeters, with an ocular micrometer. The depth is not measured and is assumed to equal the width W. The tumor's volume in cubic millimeters is then approximately 0.52W2L.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Abrams, Gerald. "Neoplasia II". Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  2. ^ National Cancer Institute, "Tumor Grade", accessed 18 August, 2014
  3. ^ Gleason, Donald F; Mellinger George T (Feb 2002). "Prediction of prognosis for prostatic adenocarcinoma by combined histological grading and clinical staging. 1974". J. Urol. ( 
  4. ^ Sawair FA, Irwin CR, Gordon DJ, Leonard AG, Stephenson M, Napier SS. Invasive front grading: reliability and usefulness in the management of oral squamous cell carcinoma. J Oral Pathol Med. 2003 Jan;32(1):1-9.
  5. ^ W. Su & Q. Wang: Inhibition of Human Prostate Cancer Growth and Prevention of Metastasis Development by Antiangiogenic Activities of Pigment Epithelium-Derived Factor. The Internet Journal of Oncology, 2007 Volume 4 Number 1

External links

  • CancerWeb
  • Atlas Interactif de Neuro-Oncologie
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