You are here: 

Stage and grade

When you have cancer, your doctors will find out as much as possible about the cancer to recommend the best treatment plan. This includes the cancer stage and grade.

Cancer grade is based on how the cancer cells look. Knowing the cancer grade helps your doctors predict how fast the cancer will grow and how likely it is to spread. Grade is usually described using a number from 1 to 3 or 4. The higher the number, the more different the cancer cells look from healthy cells and the faster they are growing.

Cancer stage lets your doctors know how much cancer is in your body, where it is and how far it has spread. This helps them know what treatments to use. Cancer can spread within the organ that it started in, to nearby lymph nodes or to distant sites. To find out the stage, you may have different tests. Stage is described using a number from 1 to 4. Stage 1 cancer is usually small and hasn’t spread outside of where it started. The higher the number, the larger the tumour or the more it has spread. Stage 4 usually means it has spread to distant sites.

How stage and grade are used to plan treatment is different for each type of cancer. Your doctor can tell you more about the stage and grade of your cancer and what this means for you.

Find out more about staging and grading cancer.


Rose-Marie LeBlanc If I can help even one individual in my lifetime, it is worth the effort.

Read Rose-Marie's story

Taking action against all cancers

Icon - question mark

The latest Canadian Cancer Statistics report found that of all newly diagnosed cancers in 2017, half are expected to be lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers. Learn what you can do to reduce the burden of cancer.

Learn more