Brain Cancer – Types & Stages

World-Class Radiation Oncology in Orange County, CA

At OC CyberKnife, that there’s always hope in the fight against cancer no matter how bleak the situation may look. That’s why we’re committed to providing our patients with the best radiation therapy cancer treatments on the market today, serving patients throughout Orange County with personalized, expert cancer care. Brain cancer is among the most difficult forms of cancer to target, but thanks to revolutionary non-surgical treatment systems like CyberKnife, brain cancer patients have a better chance than ever at beating their cancer. That said, cancer is always easiest to treat when it’s caught early on – so it’s important to understand the different types and stages of brain cancer.

Grades of Brain Cancer

Brain cancer is classified based on grade: a system tells us how aggressive, or malignant, a tumor may be. Unlike other cancers, which are generally staged based on their location, the size of the tumor, and its growth, brain cancer is graded exclusively on how malignant and aggressive the tumor itself is.

Brain cancer is split into four grades of tumor: I, II, III, and IV. The most malignant tumors are classified as grade IV, while the least malignant are classified as grade I. It’s important to understand that because brain tumor occurs within the brain – the control center of the body – even grade I tumors can be serious, so it’s critical to begin treatment for brain cancer as quickly as possible in all cases.

Tumors are graded using the following criteria:

  • Grade I: The least malignant form of brain tumor, grade I tumors have the highest long-term rates of survival. Composed of slow-growing cells, grade I tumors can sometimes look similar to normal brain tissue under a microscope. Grade I tumors may occur in a number of different brain cell types, and we may opt to use either surgery or CyberKnife to treat them.
  • Grade II: Grade II tumors still grow relatively slowly, but are more clearly diseased when viewed under a microscope. Grade II tumors also carry a higher risk of recurring or spreading into nearby tissue.
  • Grade III: While there isn’t always a major difference between grade II and III tumors, grade III tumors are always malignant and generally a more serious form of brain cancer. They grow more quickly and actively than grade I or II tumors, carrying a higher risk of spreading into nearby healthy tissue and recurring as a grade IV tumor.
  • Grade IV: The most malignant form of brain cancer, grade IV tumors cells reproduce rapidly, look clearly abnormal under a microscope, and aggressively grow into nearby healthy brain tissue. Grade IV tumors can even form new blood vessels so they can sustain rapid growth, and they may even have dead cells at their centers.

A single tumor may contain cells of several grades, but the tumor is always graded based on the most malignant type of cell present. Accordingly, if a tumor contains grade IV cells, it’s always staged as a grade IV tumor, even if most of its mass is composed of lower grade cells.

Schedule a Consultation with Your Orange County Oncologist

Because it occurs in one of the most important and delicate organs in the body, brain cancer is always a very serious condition – but with early detection and world-class treatment from Orange County CyberKnife, there’s always hope. Call us today at 714.962.7100 if you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with brain cancer. We can schedule a consultation to discuss your best treatment options, and even if you’ve already had treatment recommended to you, we can provide a second opinion. Working together, we are committed to helping you triumph over cancer and reclaim a healthy, normal life.