The grade of
prostate cancer refers to how the cancer cells look
under a microscope. Finding out what grade your cancer is helps you and your
doctor choose the best way to treat it.
Prostate cancer cells are either well-differentiated, moderately
differentiated, or poorly differentiated. Differentiation is a term that is used to describe how different the cancer cells look from normal cells under a
microscope. Well-differentiated cancers have very clear boundaries and cells
that look relatively normal. They usually do not grow and spread rapidly.
Poorly differentiated cancers have less clearly defined boundaries. The cancer cells look very abnormal. They often grow and spread rapidly.
If you just learned that you or a loved one has advanced prostate cancer, you may have many questions and concerns. By taking the time to research your condition, you've taken a good first step. Here are answers to the most common questions. After looking over these answers, click on other articles in this guide to find in-depth information about treatments, side effects, and other issues that affect you and your family.
After your cancer has been looked at under a microscope, your doctor
can tell you what grade your cancer is.
Prostate cancer is often graded using the Gleason score, on a scale
of 2 to 10. The Gleason score is thought to be a powerful tool for predicting how
aggressive a tumor will be. The higher the Gleason
score, the more likely the tumor is to grow rapidly and spread (metastasize) to
other parts of the body.
A Gleason score of 2 to 6 means well-differentiated tumors
with cells that are expected to grow slowly and not spread readily.
A Gleason score of 7 means moderately differentiated
A Gleason score of 8 to 10 means poorly differentiated tumors
with cells that are likely to grow rapidly and spread to other parts of the
Rarely, the following system is used to grade cancer:
GX: Grade cannot be determined
G1: Well-formed, normal cells (Gleason score 2 to 4)
G2: Mostly normal cells (Gleason score 5 to 7)
G3: Poorly formed cells with many traits of cancer cells (Gleason
score 8 to 10)
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
J. Curtis Nickel, MD, FRCSC - Urology
June 21, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
June 21, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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