Vaginal cancer

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Grading vaginal cancer

The grade is a description of how the cancer cells look compared to normal cells. To find out the grade of vaginal cancer, the pathologist looks at a tissue sample from the vagina under a microscope. The pathologist gives vaginal cancer a grade from 1 to 3. 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

Tyler Cook This research saved my life and my sister’s life. Without it, stomach cancer would have wiped out most of our family.

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Support from someone who has ‘been there’

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The Canadian Cancer Society’s peer support program is a telephone support service that matches cancer patients and their caregivers with specially trained volunteers.

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