Staging and grading of womb cancer

The stage, grade and type of womb cancer helps you and your doctor make decisions about your treatment.

Womb cancer stages

The stage of the womb cancer describes:

  • how far the cancer has grown
  • if it has spread from where it started.

Knowing the stage of the cancer is important. It helps you and your doctor make decisions about your treatment.

The exact stage of the cancer is usually confirmed after surgery (if you have this). We have more information about surgery.

Womb cancer is divided into 4 main stages.

Stage 1

The cancer is contained in the womb. About 3 out of 4 womb cancers (75%) are diagnosed at stage 1.

Stage 1 can be divided into:

  • stage 1A – the cancer is only in the lining of the womb, or has grown less than halfway into the muscle
  • stage 1B – the cancer has grown halfway or more into the muscle wall.

Stage 2

The cancer has spread to the cervix (the neck of the womb).

Stage 3

The cancer has spread outside the womb but has not spread beyond the pelvis.

Stage 3 can be divided into:

  • stage 3A – the cancer has spread to the outer surface of the womb or the ovaries and fallopian tubes, or both
  • stage 3B – the cancer has spread into the vagina or into the tissues around the womb (parametrium), or both
  • stage 3C – the cancer has spread to pelvic lymph nodes, or to lymph nodes in the tummy (abdomen).

Stage 4

The cancer has spread to other organs in the body. Stage 4 can be divided into:

  • stage 4A – the cancer has spread into the bowel or bladder
  • stage 4B – the cancer has spread to other organs such as the lungs, liver or bones.

How cancer stages are described

Your doctor or nurse may use some of the following terms to describe the cancer:

  • early-stage womb cancer – this usually means stage 1 and stage 2 womb cancers
  • locally advanced womb cancer – this usually means stage 3 and stage 4A womb cancers
  • advanced, metastatic or secondary womb cancer – this usually means stage 4B womb cancer
  • recurrent cancer – this means a cancer that has come back after treatment (it is not usually given a stage).

Grading of womb cancer

Grading is about how the cancer cells look under the microscope compared with normal cells. The grade helps your doctor to decide about your treatment. Womb cancer can be graded as:

Grade 1 or low-grade or well differentiated

The cancer cells look like normal cells, usually grow slowly and are less likely to spread

Grade 2 or moderate-or intermediate-grade

The cancer cells look more abnormal and are slightly faster growing

Grade 3 or high-grade or poorly differentiated

The cancer cells look very different from normal cells and may grow more quickly.

We understand that waiting to know the stage and grade of your cancer can be a worrying time. We're here if you need someone to talk to. You can:

About our information

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Professor Nick Reed, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.

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