When a person is diagnosed with prostate cancer, the cancer tissues are examined very carefully under microscopes. The pathologists examine the tissues which are extracted through biopsy and look for the cancer cells. When these cells have been identified, both the grade and the stage of the cancer have to be determined by the doctor. For the correct treatment, it is essential to determine the correct stage of the disease.
The factors that help to determine the stage are as follows.
1. Size of the area affected and the tumor.
2. If the cancer has been contained in the prostate or has spread to other body parts.
3. If so, which other parts of the body have been affected.
The different stages are discussed below.
Stage one – This type cannot be detected when one undergoes a digital rectal-exam. Doctors generally come across it accidentally, during surgery for something else, mostly for benign prostatic-hyperplasia. At this stage, the cancer is contained in the prostate gland. Id can be detected by needle biopsy. Gleason score for this is 6 or less. It generally affects less than one lobe of the gland.
Stage two – This is more serious than the previous stage but the cancer is contained in the prostate gland even in this stage. This is also detected by needle biopsy and the Gleason reading is approximately 7. In some cases, both the prostate gland lobes are affected. It cannot be detected by imaging or DRE. In these cases, the Gleason reading is about 8.
Stage three – in this case, the disease has spread to areas around the prostate. Seminal vessels could be affected but lymph nodes have not been affected yet. The score of Gleason can be anything between two to ten. This is a much more serious stage than the previous one. Treatment should be started immediately.
Stage four – The cancer could have spread to the organs nearby and other muscles. It may even have affected the lymph nodes. There is a high possibility that the cancer has widely spread throughout the body. It can even spread to the bones. Gleason score is between ten and two.
Recurrent stage – The disease has recurred after some time and had not been detected. Areas near the prostate or the prostate gland, itself could be affected. Or the recurrence could happen in a completely unsuspected place like the bones.