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What is the grade of my tumor?

The differentiation, also known as grade, of your cancer describes how abnormal the tumor cells look under a microscope. Cancers that are higher grade (poorly differentiated) tend to grow quickly. 

If your oncologist hasn’t mentioned grade, that’s okay! Many different factors play a role in cancer diagnosis and treatment. If you have any questions, reach out to your healthcare team.

CRC is often divided into 3 grades:

  • Well differentiated (low grade)
  • Moderately differentiated (intermediate grade)
  • Poorly differentiated (high grade)

A bit confusing, right? Take a look at the picture below. As differentiation deteriorates, cancer cells start looking wonky.

So why does this matter?

The grade of your tumor can tell you how likely your cancer is to spread, but other factors, such as the stage and genetic profile of your tumor, are important to consider when determining prognosis.

COLONTOWN University has so much more to offer, from DocTalk videos with CRC experts to easy-to-understand biomarker test breakdowns. We’re here for you! See our list of Learning Centers here.

Last updated: May 18, 2022

The Basics