Stages of Prostate Cancer:
One of the most useful ways to diagnose cancer is understanding the stages that it is in. This helps a cancer team how describe and treat the different stages of cancer. There are two types of staging that exists for prostate cancer.
- Clinical stage. The clinical stage is the best estimate of the prostate cancer by your doctor. This is based on the results of your physical exams (like the DRE), your prostate biopsy, lab tests, and any other imaging tests you may have had.
- Pathologic stage. If you have received any surgery for prostate cancer, doctors will determine the pathologic stage the cancer is at. This is based on the examination and removal of tissue. This type of staging is supposed to be more accurate than clinical staging because doctors are able to get a firsthand impression of prostate cancer.
With these two ways of staging, doctors then determine what stage your cancer is at. This is done by using a grading system.
The most used stage system is the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM grading system.
The grading system is graded on 5 pieces of information:
- T: The area of the primary tumor
- N: If the cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes
- M: Presence or absence of metastasis
- PSA level of the time of diagnosis
- Gleason score
T Categories (clinical)
There are 4 categories within the T category to describe the extent of prostate tumor.
- T1: The doctor cannot feel the tumor or see it with imaging.
- T2: Doctor can feel the cancer with a digital rectal exam (DRE)
- T3: Cancer has grown and spread outside the
- T4: Cancer has grown into tissues next to the prostate.
These categories describe if the cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes.
- NX: Nearby lymph nodes were not assessed.
- N0: Caner has not spread to nearby lymph nodes.
- N1: Cancer has spread to one or more lymph nodes in the pelvis.
These categories describe if the cancer has spread to other distant parts of the body.
- M0: Cancer has not spread past lymph nodes.
- M1: Cancer has spread past lymph nodes.
This has been another popular way to stage prostate cancer. This is graded on an A, B, C, or D method. However, most specialists now use the TMN system. If the doctor you are seeing uses the Whitmore-Jewett system, do not be afraid to ask them to convert this to the more used TNM grading system.
Always ask your doctor to explain your stages. It is important to understand about your treatment options.
Page updated 5/3/13