Prostate Problem Guide
Prostate Cancer Stages In Simple Non-Medical Terms
It is extremely important that, following a diagnosis of prostate cancer, the stage and growth rate of the cancer is determined, so that the most suitable form of treatment can be given. This involves determining the spread of the cancer outside of the prostate gland and the manner in which the cancer is growing.
Prostate cancer cells are similar to other body cells in many ways and will go through various stages of growth and there are a number of tests and grading systems which can be used to determine and classify the stage of growth of prostate cancer cells.
A widely used method of grading is known as the Gleason system. In this case cancer cells are compared to normal cells and given a score to indicate their appearance when compared to normal cells. Grading runs from 1 to 5, with 1 representing a cell which is quite close to a normal cell and 5 indicating a cell which bears little resemblance to a normal cell.
Unfortunately cells in different areas of the prostate may be at different stages of development and so, in order to obtain an overall Gleason score, the scores are taken from the two areas which are most affected by cancer and the scores are then added together. This overall score, which will lie between 2 and 10, indicates an increasingly aggressive form of prostate cancer as the score increases.
A commonly used system in determining the extent to which cancer has spread is the TNM system, which uses a combination of the size of the tumor, the extent to which the lymph nodes have been affected and the presence of other related cancers appearing in sites other than the prostate gland.
Using the TNM system prostate cancer is then classified as being T1, T2, T3 or T4 cancer, with T1 and T2 indicating a cancer which is confined to the prostate gland and T3 and T4 indicating a cancer which has spread beyond the prostate gland.