Staging and grading of endometrial cancer
The stage of a cancer is a term used to describe its size and whether it has spread beyond its original area of the body.
The grade of a cancer describes how quickly the tumour is likely to grow.
Knowing the extent of the cancer and the grade helps the doctors to decide on the most appropriate treatment.
The staging system used for cancer of the uterus is the FIGO system, developed by the International Federation for Gynecology and Obstetrics. The staging system is based on the spread of the cancer:
- Stage 1: The cancer is confined to the uterus.
- Stage 2: The cancer has spread to the cervix.
- Stage 3: The cancer has spread beyond the uterus/ cervix to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina or nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage 4: The cancer has spread further, to the inside of the bladder or rectum, throughout the abdomen or to other body parts.
- Recurrent: If the cancer comes back after initial treatment, this is known as recurrent cancer. Endometrial cancer may come back in the uterus or in another part of the body.
A pathologist will use tests on your cancer biopsy to ‘grade’ your cancer. Grade refers to the extent of similarity of cancer cells to normal cells. Low-grade tumours tend to grow more slowly while high-grade tumours grow faster and spread more quickly.