Histological breast grade
The pathologist will determine the aggressiveness or grade of the tumour by comparing the microscopic features of the surgical specimen with an established classification system. These systems look at:
The glandular pattern of cells compared with the organ of origin -
Low grade (often otherwise called grade 1, or well differentiated) tumour will have features, albeit disrupted, of its origin.
Moderate grade Grade 2 is somewhere in between.
High grade (grade 3 or poorly differentiated) will just look like a sheet of cells with no residual distinctive pattern remaining.
The aggressiveness of the individual cells. If the cells are large, show features of dividing rapidly or are very dissimilar to those from its organ of origin they are usually classed as high grade. If small, look like they are not dividing rapidly and look similar to those from its origin they are usually be classed as low grade.
The pathologist, using special stains called immunohistochemistry, will also test for other features including the oestrogen or HER2 receptors.
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