Brain Cancer Staging 

Updated: Dec 30, 2015
  • Author: Jeffrey N Bruce, MD; Chief Editor: Jules E Harris, MD, FACP, FRCPC  more...
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Staging of Brain Cancers

The histologic classification employed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for central nervous system (CNS) tumors, shown below, makes use of 4 grades. [1, 2]

WHO histologic grading for CNS tumors

Grade I:

  • Lesions with low proliferative potential, a frequently discrete nature, and the possibility of cure following surgical resection alone
  • Juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, subependymal giant cell astrocytoma

Grade II:

  • Lesions that are generally infiltrating and low in mitotic activity but recur; some tumor types tend to progress to higher grades of malignancy
  • Diffuse astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, oligoastrocytoma

Grade III:

  • Lesions with histologic evidence of malignancy, generally in the form of mitotic activity, clearly expressed infiltrative capabilities, and anaplasia
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma, anaplastic oligoastrocytoma, anaplastic oligoastrocytoma

Grade IV:

  • Lesions that are mitotically active, necrosis-prone, and generally associated with a rapid preoperative and postoperative evolution of disease
  • Glioblastoma