Prostate Cancer Stages and Other Ways to Assess Risk

Prostate Cancer Staging and Outlook | Other Ways to Assess Risk

Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland that produces semen and protects the sperm’s function. It is the second most common type of cancer among American males.

The American Cancer Society expected that around 174, 650 people in 2019 would have a new prostate cancer diagnosis, and an estimate of 31, 620 people were expected to die from the disease.

I discovered in the early stages, the outlook for prostate cancer can be good because it’s highly treatable when effective treatment is administered early.

There are different ways of staging prostate cancer. Cancer staging is when an oncologist decides how far cancer cells have progressed and how they’re spreading. The simplest way doctors stage cancer is by looking at how far cancer has spread from the original site.

For instance, localized cancer is when the cancer cells remain within the prostate gland, where they started. When cancer has spread, possibly nearby lymph glands and to adjacent tissues and not to other body parts is called regional cancer. However, when cancer spreads throughout the body, affecting other organs like the liver and lungs, it’s referred to as distant cancer.

Symptoms and Treatment of Prostate Cancer

Symptoms of prostate cancer may not appear in the early stages. However, as the tumor grows, the person may start to experience the impact. Some of the symptoms that could appear include:

·     Erectile dysfunction

·     Changes in the urination patterns

·     Blood in the semen or urine

Luckily, effective treatment is possible for prostate cancer if the diagnosis is received early. When a diagnosis is made, your doctor may discuss treatment options with you. Some of the factors that could affect your treatment decision include:

·     Your overall health and age

·     The grade and stage of the cancer

·     Your personal preferences

Stages of Prostate Cancer

Stage 1

This is when the tumor is small, but there are cancerous cells affecting only one area. In this stage, PSA and Gleason scores (both factors used to assess cancer cells) are low. At this stage, there might not be any noticeable symptoms.

An ultrasound and a digital rectal exam (DRE) might also not reveal the tumor. In this stage, the grape group is 1, the PSA is below 10, and the Gleason score is lower than 6. With routine screening, men can successfully detect cancer and make early treatment possible.

Stage 2

While medical tests might not reveal the tumor, your doctor may detect any changes during a rectal ultrasound or a DRE as this stage progresses. In this stage, cancer hasn’t spread beyond the prostate gland.

An early-stage two tumor is grade 1; in the later phases of the stage, the grade could rise to 3. The PSA score is between 10-20, and the Gleason score is 6, with the potential of growing to 7-8.

Stage 3

In stage 3, cancer has spread beyond your prostate gland. Cancer could have reached the glands that secrete the fluid that makes up the semen, also known as the seminal vesicles.

However, cancer hasn’t spread to the rectum and bladder. The PSA may be more than 20. The grade group at first is 1-4 and could be as high as 9-10 by the end of stage 3.

Stage 4

In this stage, cancer has spread to other nearby organs like the rectum, bladder, or lymph nodes. It could also potentially have spread to distant organs like the liver and bones.

At this stage, the cancer is called metastatic prostate cancer because cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Here the grade group, PSA levels, and Gleason score can be any number. 

Your Treatment Options

With a diagnosis, you should first attend regular health checks for regular monitoring. It may also be necessary to remove your prostate gland. Chemotherapy is also an effective treatment. Your doctor will prescribe drugs meant to kill the cancer cells either in the specific area or throughout the body. However, chemotherapy will target both your healthy and unhealthy cells resulting in adverse effects.

Radiation therapy includes introducing radioactive material where the cancer is present or directing an external beam of radiation at the affected area to help reduce the size of the tumor and hopefully kill the cancer cells after surgery. There are also other forms of treatment therapies you can consider with your doctor’s consultation.