To find out the grade of cervical cancer, the pathologist looks at a tissue sample from the cervix under a microscope. The pathologist gives cervical cancer a grade from 1 to 3. The lower the number, the lower the grade.
The grade is a description of the degree of differentiation of the cancer cells. Differentiation is how the cancer cells look and behave compared to normal cells.
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 more abnormal than low-grade cancer cells. 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 your prognosis and how you might respond to treatment.
Seeing my sister Erin – a young mother – struggle with the emotional blow and then the physical toll of cancer treatment made me want to do something to help women feel confident.
The Canadian Cancer Society is actively lobbying the federal government to establish a national caregivers strategy to ensure there is more financial support for this important group of people.