Pathology dictionary -

Poorly differentiated

Pathologists use the word differentiated to describe the difference between the cancer cells and the surrounding normal, health cells (non-cancerous) cells. Poorly differentiated cells look very abnormal compared to normal cells. Cancer cells can be described as poorly differentiated based on their shape, size, or colour.

The opposite of poorly differentiated is well differentiated. Well differentiated cancer cells look very similar to normal, healthy cells although they still behave like a cancer. 

Because poorly differentiated cells look so abnormal, pathologists often have to perform additional tests such as immunohistochemistry before they can make a final diagnosis. This is especially important if the poorly differentiated cancer cells are found in a lymph node or other metastatic location.


Why is this important? Poorly differentiated cancers tend to behave in a much more aggressive manner and are associated with worse prognosis than well differentiated cancers.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Copyright 2017

For more information about this site, contact us at

Disclaimer: The articles on MyPathologyReport are intended for general informational purposes only and they do not address individual circumstances. The articles on this site are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the MyPathologyReport site. The articles on are intended for use within Canada by residents of Canada only.

Droits d'auteur 2017
Pour plus d'informations sur ce site, contactez-nous à
Clause de non-responsabilité: Les articles sur MyPathologyReport ne sont destinés qu’à des fins d'information et ne tiennent pas compte des circonstances individuelles. Les articles sur ce site ne remplacent pas les avis médicaux professionnels, diagnostics ou traitements et ne doivent pas être pris en compte pour la prise de décisions concernant votre santé. Ne négligez jamais les conseils d'un professionnel de la santé à cause de quelque chose que vous avez lu sur le site de MyPathologyReport. Les articles sur sont destinés à être utilisés au Canada, par les résidents du Canada uniquement.