What Are The Stages Of Prostate Cancer?
Staging is a method of describing where the cancer is located, where it has spread, and whether it is affecting other parts of the body. Prostate cancer staging is based on a number of different factors, including prostate cancer screening tests such as a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Doctors use diagnostic tests to determine the cancer’s stage, so staging may not be complete until these tests are completed. Knowing the correct stage helps a doctor to decide the best course of treatment and can also help predict a patient’s prognosis. There are 2 types of staging for prostate cancer:
The Clinical Stage
The clinical stage is based on the results of tests done before surgery, which includes DRE, biopsy, x-rays, CT and/or MRI scans, and bone scans. X-rays, bone scans, CT scans, and MRI scans may not always be needed. They are recommended based on the PSA level; the size of the cancer, which includes its grade and volume; and the clinical stage of the cancer.
The Pathologic Stage
The pathologic stage is based on information found during surgery, plus the laboratory results, referred to as pathology, of the prostate tissue removed during surgery. The surgery often includes the removal of the entire prostate and some lymph nodes.
TNM Staging System
In order to determine the stage of a patient’s prostate cancer, most doctors start by using the TNM staging system, which helps describe different aspects of the cancer’s growth and spread. The TNM staging system stands for tumor, node, and metastasis:
How large is the primary tumor? Where is it located?
Has the tumor spread to the lymph nodes? If so, where and how many?
Has the cancer metastasized to other parts of the body? If so, where and how much?
Stages of Prostate Cancer
Stage 1 Prostate Cancer
In stage 1, the cancer is confined to the prostate. Stage 1 prostate cancer can’t be detected during a digital rectal exam (DRE) and is usually expected to be slow growing.
Stage 2 Prostate Cancer
In stage 2, the cancer can be detected during a digital rectal exam (DRE). It’s still confined to the prostate, but the cells may be more abnormal and may grow faster.
Stage 3 Prostate Cancer
In stage 3, the cancer has now spread beyond the prostate and may have potentially spread into the nearby seminal vesicles.
Stage 4 Prostate Cancer
In stage 4, the cancer has spread (metastasized) beyond the prostate into other tissues. Stage 4 prostate cancer commonly spreads to lymph nodes, the bones, liver, or lungs.
Prostate Cancer Survival Rates
Prostate cancer actually has one of the highest survival rates among all types of cancers. Prostate cancer is often a slow growing disease. Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer will likely die from an unrelated cause. According to the American Cancer Society:
- The relative 5-year survival rate is nearly 100%
- The relative 10-year survival rate is 98%
- The 15-year relative survival rate is 91%