Tumor Grade (cont.)
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How is tumor grade determined?
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If a tumor is suspected to be malignant, a doctor removes a sample of tissue or the entire tumor in a procedure called a biopsy. A pathologist (a doctor who identifies diseases by studying cells under a microscope) examines the tissue to determine whether the tumor is benign or malignant. The pathologist can also determine the tumor grade and identify other characteristics of the tumor cells.
What do the different tumor grades signify?
Based on the microscopic appearance of cancer cells, pathologists commonly describe tumor grade by four degrees of severity: Grades 1, 2, 3, and 4. The cells of Grade 1 tumors resemble normal cells, and tend to grow and multiply slowly. Grade 1 tumors are generally considered the least aggressive in behavior.
Conversely, the cells of Grade 3 or Grade 4 tumors do not look like normal cells of the same type. Grade 3 and 4 tumors tend to grow rapidly and spread faster than tumors with a lower grade.