Canadian Cancer Society logo

Penile cancer

You are here: 

Grades of penile cancer

Grading is a way of classifying penile cancer cells based on their appearance and behaviour when viewed under a microscope. To find out the grade of a tumour, the biopsy sample is examined under a microscope. A grade is given based on how the cancer cells look and behave compared with normal cells (differentiation). This can give the healthcare team an idea of how quickly the cancer may be growing and how likely it is to spread.

The grade of penile cancer is based on the degree of differentiation of cells and their rate of growth.



grade of differentiation cannot be assessed


well differentiated or low grade – slow growing, less likely to spread


moderately well differentiated or moderate grade


poorly differentiated or high grade – tend to grow quickly, more likely to spread


undifferentiated or high grade – tend to grow very quickly, likely to spread

Grading plays an important part in planning penile cancer treatment and can also be used to help estimate the prognosis (future outcome).


Parker Murchison My favourite thing about Camp Goodtime is being able to hang out with other kids who have survived cancer. They know what is going on in your life and can help you get through it.

Read Parker's story

A home away from home

Illustration of house

For cancer patients who must travel a great distance to get to treatment, Canadian Cancer Society lodges offer a welcoming place to stay.

Learn more