Kicking Cancer In the Pants: Pathology Results

Well, I got the call today with the pathology results for my surgery, and the doctor said it looked like the cancer had been painted on the inside of my uterus… I’m not sure what that means, but he did say it hadn’t invaded the wall too much. I’ve done some reading about this (big surprise!)… and found out that there are two dimensions that cancer is measured on: the type of cancer (grade) and the spread of cancer (stage). I’ll gladly put this into terms any woman can understand:

Grade has to do with how aggressive the cancer is, and it’s related to how much the cells look like normal cells from the lining of the uterus:

  • Grade 1: Most of the cells look a lot like normal uterine cells and are not very clumpy; only 0-5% of cells are abnormal
  • Grade 2: More of the cells look less defined (aka undifferentiated) and form more of a mass; 5-50% of cells are abnormal
  • Grade 3:  Most of the cells of the cancer are very abnormal (undifferentiated) and form a solid mass; more than 50% of cells are abnormal

Stage has to do with how far the cancer has spread:

  • Stage I: Cancer is found only in the body of the uterus
    • Stage IA: The cancer has invaded into less than 50% of the wall of the uterus (minimally invasive)
    • Stage IB: The cancer has invaded deeper than 50% of the wall of the uterus
    • Stage II: The cancer has spread into the cervix
    • Stage III: The cancer extends into nearby structures: ovaries, vagina, or nearby lymph nodes
    • Stage IV: The cancer has invaded the bladder or bowel, or gone beyond the pelvis

Based on what my oncologist said, my cancer is Grade 2, Stage IA.  But he said I had only 5-10% abnormal cells, so I’m on the good side of Grade 2.  What that means for me is that he doesn’t recommend any further treatment. YAY!

I realized when I got the news, though, that I was secretly hoping he’d say it had all been a mistake and I never had cancer at all. The reality of it has hit me now, and I’m feeling quite cranky about it. Thank goodness I’ve been blessed with a naturally optimistic outlook on life; I know that will re-assert itself soon.

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2 replies on “Kicking Cancer In the Pants: Pathology Results”

I’m glad your prognosis is so good, and that’s a great explanation of grades and stages. I would just add some doctors use the term “Stage 0” to describe something known as “carcinoma in situ,” (or cancer in place); it’s basically cancerous cells that are proliferating within the normal architecture of the organ. It’s sort of on the line between a pre-cancerous mass (dysplasia) and “true” cancer. It’s non-invasive, but can progress to the stages listed above.

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