Bile duct cancer

You are here: 

Grading bile duct cancer

The grade is a description of how the cancer cells look and act compared to normal cells. To find out the grade of bile duct cancer, the pathologist looks at a tissue sample from the bile duct under a microscope. The pathologist gives bile duct cancer a grade from 1 to 4. A lower number means the cancer is a lower grade.

How different the cancer cells are is described as differentiation.

Low grade means that the cancer cells are well differentiated. They look almost like normal cells. Lower grade cancer cells tend to be slow growing and are less likely to spread.

High grade means that the cancer cells are poorly differentiated or undifferentiated. They look less normal, or more abnormal. Higher grade cancer cells tend to grow more quickly and are more likely to spread than low-grade cancer cells.

Knowing the grade gives your healthcare team an idea of how quickly the cancer may be growing and how likely it is to spread. This helps them plan your treatment. The grade can also help the healthcare team predict future outcomes (your prognosis) and how the cancer might respond to treatment.

Stories

Shana Allen This was the only peace we were able to find while the rest of our world was upside down.

Read Shana's story

Providing rides to cancer treatment

Illustration of car

For more than 50 years, the Canadian Cancer Society’s transportation program has enabled patients to focus their energy on fighting cancer and not on worrying about how they will get to treatment.

Learn more