Stages and grades
When you're diagnosed, your medical team will aim to identify how much cancer there is, how far it's spread, and how fast it's likely to grow and spread.
The stage of the ovarian cancer can impact your treatment. If you have any questions about the stages of ovarian cancer and what this means for you, our specialist nurses are here. Our support line is open Monday-Friday, 9-5pm. Call 020 7923 5475.
Grading refers to how similar cancer cells look to normal cells and can help predict how the cancer will behave. This includes how fast it's likely to grow and spread, which may impact on the treatments recommended for you.
There are some ovarian tumours that rarely spread. These are called borderline or atypically proliferative tumours (not cancers).
In the most common type of ovarian cancer the tumours are simply divided into low-grade and high-grade and a grading number isn’t given. The most common type of ovarian cancer is high-grade serous carcinoma. There is also low-grade serous, which is less common. High grade tumours are also more likely to respond to chemotherapy compared to low grade tumours.
All other ovarian cancers are graded as 1, 2 and 3.
Grade 1 (well differentiated) cancers have cells that closely look like normal cells and are less likely to spread or recur (come back).
Grade 2 (moderately differentiated) cancers and grade 3 (poorly differentiated) cancers show increasing difference of appearance compared to normal cells. They are also more likely to spread and recur (come back).
Differentiation is the process by which cells change in structure and become specialised for their role and place in the body. Well differentiated tumours are highly specialised for their role and place. The cells and tissue structures are very similar to normal tissues.
Last reviewed: April 2022
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