Pathology tests help determine the tumor’s stage and grade — two classifications that are critical for choosing the most effective cancer treatment and predicting how the disease will progress.
The stage indicates the extent and location of the tumor, including whether it has spread to the lymph nodes, other areas of your neck, or distant parts of your body. Staging is done by combining information from the pathology report, physical exam, and radiologic exams (x-rays, CT, and MRI).
The grade describes how abnormal the cancer cells are in comparison with normal cells and how quickly they are dividing, which could indicate an aggressive cancer. Together, grading and staging will determine whether you have aggressive disease; if so, you might want to consider more aggressive treatment.