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In pathology, grading is a measure of the cell appearance in tumors and other neoplasms. Some pathology grading systems apply only to malignant neoplasms (cancer); others apply also to benign neoplasms. The neoplastic grading is a measure of cell anaplasia (reversion of differentiation) in the sampled tumor and is based on the resemblance of the tumor to the tissue of origin. Grading in cancer is distinguished from staging, which is a measure of the extent to which the cancer has spread.

Pathology grading systems classify the microscopic cell appearance abnormality and deviations in their rate of growth with the goal of predicting developments at tissue level (see also the 4 major histological changes in dysplasia).

Cancer is a disorder of cell life cycle alteration that leads (non-trivially) to excessive cell proliferation rates, typically longer cell lifespans and poor differentiation. The grade score (numerical: G1 up to G4) increases with the lack of cellular differentiation - it reflects how much the tumor cells differ from the cells of the normal tissue they have originated from (see 'Categories' below). Tumors may be graded on four-tier, three-tier, or two-tier scales, depending on the institution and the tumor type.

The histologic tumor grade score along with the metastatic (whole-body-level cancer-spread) staging are used to evaluate each specific cancer patient, develop their individual treatment strategy and to predict their prognosis. A cancer that is very poorly differentiated is called anaplastic.


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