Although grading and the identification of cancer cell types help determine a patient's prognosis, most doctors believe that the cancer's stage is a better indicator of a patient's survivability. The grade of a cancer cell is an assessment of its appearance compared to that of a normal, healthy cell. Grading is done on a scale (such as 1 to 4) with grade 1 cells differing little from normal cells, typically spreading slowly, and having a good prognosis for treatment. The highest grade cells look extremely different and indicate an aggressive cancer with poor prognosis. Staging allows a physician to gauge the size and location of tumors by using information gathered from imaging studies such as CT scans and MRIs, and from pathology tests and physical examinations. Staging factors that influence a patient's prognosis are:
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