Identifying the stage and grade of a cancer means your doctor can advise on the best course of treatment for you.
It also describes the cancer in a common language which is useful when your doctor is discussing your case with other doctors or healthcare professionals.
The stage of a cancer is measured by how much the tumour has grown or spread from where it started. This can be seen on the results of your tests and scans.
The grade of a cancer describes what the cancerous cells look like compared to normal cells. The grade will give some indication of how slowly or quickly the cancer may grow.
Stage 1 – the cancer is low grade, small (less than 5cm) and has not spread to other parts of the body
Stage 2 – the cancer is of any grade, usually larger than grade one but has not spread to other parts of the body
Stage 3 – a high grade cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body
Stage 4 – a cancer of any grade or size that has spread to any other part of the body
Low-grade – the cancer cells are slow-growing, look quite similar to normal cells, are less aggressive, and are less likely to spread
Intermediate-grade – the cancer cells are growing slightly faster and look more abnormal
High-grade – the cancer cells are fast growing, look very abnormal, are more aggressive and are more likely to spread