Different Brain Tumor Grades
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The staging process is an essential aspect of cancer treatment. It assesses the severity of cancer based on how far it has spread beyond the original site. The information gained during this process helps treatment teams determine the best course of treatment that produces more favorable outcomes.
However, when malignant brain tumors are involved, the severity of the cancer is determined by grades, not stages. Brain cancers do not behave the same way as other forms of cancer. Some tumors may migrate to other places within the brain, although it’s rare for tumors to spread outside the brain.
Different Grades of Brain Tumors
Brain tumor types and grades are not the same. Brain tumor types refer to the two main types: primary brain tumors and metastatic brain tumors. Primary brain tumors originate from the brain itself. In contrast, metastatic tumors are manifestations of cancers that occur elsewhere in the body that spread to the brain.
Meanwhile, brain tumor grades refer to the four distinct grades that categorize primary brain tumors based on their aggressiveness, as described below:
- Grade 1: The tumor is slow to grow and hasn’t spread to nearby tissues. As such, surgery may be a viable option to remove the tumor completely.
- Grade 2: The tumor is still slow to grow, but the possibility of spreading to nearby tissues or recurring is relatively high.
- Grade 3: The tumor looks different from normal brain cells. It grows quickly and is likely to spread to nearby tissues.
- Grade 4: The tumor does not look like normal cells. It shows fast growth and can quickly spread to other parts of the brain.
The different brain tumor grades can also be classified as low-grade (1 & 2) and high-grade (3 & 4). Low-grade tumors are classified as such because they are slow to grow and are relatively contained with well-defined edges. They are considered less invasive, which means they are unlikely to spread to other parts of the brain. They are also less likely to return after they have been completely removed.
Meanwhile, high-grade tumors are the complete opposite. They are fast-growing tumors that are highly likely to spread to other parts of the brain and return even after being intensely treated.
Mixed-grade tumors also exist. These are determined based on the highest grade of brain tumor cells available. Tumors will still be considered high-grade even when low-grade tumors are more dominant.
How Are Brain Tumor Grades Determined?
Brain tumor grades are determined through diagnostic tests and microscopic examination of tumor tissue. These include imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans, tumor biopsies, microscopic examination, and histologic grading.
In some cases, the grade of the tumor is immediately known based on the type of tumor present. For instance, a glioblastoma is always assigned a grade 4 classification. Meanwhile, others can have several grades and be subject to further testing. One example is an adult astrocytoma, which can be grade 2, 3 or 4.
Why Are Brain Tumor Grades Important?
Brain tumor grading is a crucial aspect of brain cancer treatment. Through the various tests performed, grading can reveal the tumor’s aggressiveness, growth rate and potential to spread – all of which are essential in predicting the likely outcome of the disease and the best course of treatment.
For instance, low-grade tumors may be treated by localized methods like surgery or radiation therapy. In contrast, high-grade tumors tend to require more intensive forms of treatment like chemotherapy and radiation.
Clinical trial eligibility can sometimes be determined based on brain tumor grade. These trials often focus on a specific grade of brain tumor, so understanding the grade of the tumor can help match patients with appropriate clinical trials.
Essentially, brain tumor grading helps patients and their treatment teams create a roadmap that guides treatment strategies and sets realistic expectations. It enables a personalized approach to patient care that allows them to balance effective treatment and quality of life.
Navigate Your Cancer Journey With Confidence by Seeking a Second Opinion
Navigating the intricate landscape of brain cancer grades is crucial in understanding your diagnosis and assessing available treatment options. During this process, it is especially important to empower yourself with information to make informed decisions that pave the way for higher quality of care.
When faced with uncertainty, you can lean on the expertise of dedicated professionals who can give you a clearer outlook and help you set more realistic expectations. Remember that you hold the reins to your journey to recovery, so you can seek a second opinion from another qualified expert if you want to explore your options.
Let Dr. Aaron Cohen-Gadol guide you through this process and make better-informed decisions about your care. Request a second opinion by filling out this form.