Breast Cancer Grades

Breast cancer is diagnosed by type, grade and stage. Treatment options are also determined by type, grade and stage. The specific treatment options for both surgery and other treatments will be discussed by your surgeon and oncologist.

Breast cancer treatment decisions are often complex, and may be influenced by your physician's recommendations and your feelings about treatment options. Some factors that may influence treatment include your age and menopausal status, general health, results of certain lab tests, location of the tumor and the size of your breasts. Specific features of the tumor cells are also considered.
The grade of tumor describes how closely the biopsy sample resembles normal breast tissue and helps predict a woman's prognosis. Generally speaking, a lower grade indicates a slower growing cancer, while a higher grade points towards a faster growing tumor that is more likely to spread. Invasive cancers use the histologic tumor grade while ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is sometimes given a nuclear grade.

Histologic Tumor Grade

Grade 1: These cancers have relatively normal looking cells that do not appear to be growing rapidly and are arranged in small tubules.
Grade 2: These cancers have features between grades 1 and 3
Grade 3: The highest grade, these cancers lack normal features and tend to grow and spread more aggressively.


Nuclear Grade

Low grade: These are uniform in size and shape, low mitotic activity. Intermediate grade: These cancers show a mild to moderate variation in size, shape and mitotic activity (a measure of how fast the tumor cells are growing).
High grade: These cancers show a definite variation in size and shape, and a high mitotic activity.