Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Central Nervous System - Childhood

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 5/2013
Stages and Grades


ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about how doctors describe a tumor’s growth or spread. This is called the stage or grade. To see other pages in this guide, use the colored boxes on the right side of your screen, or click “Next” at the bottom.

Staging is a way of describing where the tumor is located, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting other parts of the body. Doctors use diagnostic tests to determine the tumor's stage, so staging may not be complete until all of the tests are finished. Knowing the stage helps the doctor to decide what kind of treatment is best and can help predict a patient’s prognosis (chance of recovery).

Several types of childhood CNS tumors can spread through the spinal fluid that surrounds the brain and the spine. For most types of CNS tumors, the tumor is described as either high-grade or low-grade, depending on how much of the tumor is left after surgery, the child’s age, and whether the tumor has spread. In general, a child with a low-grade tumor has a better prognosis.

A recurrent tumor is a tumor that comes back after treatment. If there is a recurrence, the tumor may need to be staged and graded again.

There are different stage descriptions for different types of tumors. Read more about staging for a specific type of CNS tumor. For example, review the Stages section under astrocytoma, if that is the specific diagnosis.

Information about the tumor’s stage and grade will help the doctor recommend a treatment plan for your child. Choose “Next” (below, right) to continue reading about treatment options for a CNS tumor. Or, use the colored boxes located on the right side of your screen to visit any section.

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