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30

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Ovarian Cancer, Version 1.2017

3

Cancer staging Cancer grades and cell subtypes | Cancer care plan

Cancer grades and cell

subtypes

Ovarian cancer is also classified based on what

the cancer cells look like when viewed with a

microscope. A pathologist will examine the cancer

cells to find out the cancer grade and cell subtype. A

pathologist is a doctor who’s an expert in testing cells

with a microscope to identify disease. Testing cancer

cells from tissue removed during surgery is the only

way to find out the cancer grade and cell subtype.

Cancer grades

The cancer grade is a rating of how much the cancer

cells look like normal cells. The cancer grade is

a sign of how fast the cancer will likely grow and

spread. Based on the features of the cancer cells,

the pathologist will score the cancer as Grade 1, 2,

or 3.

†

†

Grade 1

cancer cells look similar to normal

cells. This is also called low grade. These

cancer cells grow slowly and are less likely to

spread.

†

†

Grade 2

cancer cells look more abnormal than

Grade 1, but not as abnormal as Grade 3.

These cancer cells grow at a medium speed.

They are more likely to spread than Grade 1,

but less likely than Grade 3.

†

†

Grade 3

cancer cells look very different from

normal cells. This is also called high grade.

These cancer cells grow faster and are the

most likely to spread.

Some pathologists describe the grading in only two

classes: high grade or low grade. Low grade includes

the Grade 1 definition above. High grade includes the

Grade 2 and Grade 3 definitions.

Ovarian cancer cell subtypes

Ovarian cancer is divided (classified) into smaller

groups called cell subtypes. The cell subtype

is based on the features of the cancer cells.

A pathologist will view the cancer cells with a

microscope to find out the cell subtype. There are

four main cell subtypes of ovarian cancer. Serous is

the most common. The other main cell subtypes are

mucinous, endometrioid, and clear cell. However, all

four subtypes are often treated in the same way.

Cancer care plan

Your treatment team

Treating ovarian cancer takes a team approach.

Gynecologic oncologists and medical oncologists

often work closely together to plan the best treatment

for ovarian cancer. A gynecologic oncologist is a

doctor who’s an expert in surgery to treat cancers

that start in a woman’s reproductive organs. A

medical oncologist is a doctor who is an expert in

treating cancer with chemotherapy and other drugs.

NCCN experts recommend that a gynecologic

oncologist should perform the initial surgery for

ovarian cancer when possible.

Your primary care doctor can also be part of your

team. He or she can help you express your feelings

about treatments to the team. Treatment of other

medical problems may be improved if he or she is

informed of your cancer care. Besides doctors, you

may receive care from nurses, social workers, and

other health experts. Ask to have the names and

contact information of your health care providers

included in the treatment plan.

Cancer treatment

There is no single treatment practice that is best for

all patients. There is often more than one treatment

option, including clinical trials. Clinical trials study

how well a treatment works and its safety.