The prostate is a small-walnut-sized gland in a man which produces seminal fluid. This seminal fluid helps in the nourishment and transportation of sperms. Cancer in a man’s prostate occurs when the cells start growing out of control. If it is not detected in the early stages, then it might spread to the entire body, which will seal the death of the person.
Therefore, it becomes extremely essential to identify the different stages of prostate cancer based on their symptoms. This will help in entailing early treatment and care.
How prostate cancer can be detected:
Be it any kind of cancer, it does not occur over the night. It is an extremely long process, developing over many years. Similarly, in the case of prostate cancer, the cells are growing out of control over many years and the cancer is finally detected when:
- When the cells invade the nearby tissues.
- It starts spreading to other lymph nodes and vessels. This is a very common case among many people.
- When it travels to different tissues through the transportation of blood.
Once you realize that you have prostate cancer through its symptoms, out of which, difficulty in urination is most common, your doctor will test which stage of prostate cancer you have. This is determined through biopsy, that is, taking a small number of cells from the affected area in your body, which is your prostate.
The tests that help to figure out the prostate cancer stages include a rectal examination, transrectal ultrasound, MRI of the prostate, conducting surgery to examine the lymph nodes in your pelvis, CT scan of the pelvis to check whether cancer has spread, prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) and nuclear medicine bone scan to check whether cancer has reached your bones or not.
What is Gleason Score and how is it used to grade the prostate cancer stages:
Cancer cells are the normal cells growing out of control. However, with the advancement of stages, they keep on changing and start to look different from the normal cells. The more different they look, the more harmful they are to your body.
To determine the stages in your body, the most common method is to use the Gleason score method. It uses numbers from 1 to 5 to test the severity of cancer. If the cells fall under a lower number, they are similar to the normal cells, whereas if they fall under a farther number, they are more harmful and aggressive.
Grade 1: Cancer cells are extremely similar to the normal cells of a man’s prostate.
Grade 2-4: In the category of 2 or 3, the cells are slightly different from the normal-looking cells, whereas, if they score 4, they are more harmful as they are significantly different from the normal prostate cells.
Grade 5: If the cancerous cells fall under this number, they are completely different from the normal cells.
Stages of prostate cancer:
Below mentioned are the different stages of cancer which are determined through several tests taken by the doctor. Based on the results, the doctor will know which stage your body has and accordingly will determine the treatment.
This is the preliminary stage of cancer, which has just occurred in your prostate. It has not yet spread in the entire body or to the nearby regions. The cancerous tumor is present in only one side or less of that one side of the prostate.
As it is the primary stage, the doctor will not be able to detect the tumor in the digital rectal examination (DRE) or even in the imaging tests. Moreover, the Gleason score will be 6 or even less than that. The Prostate-Specific Antigen test will be less than 10.
The second stage is further divided into three further stages namely Stage II(A), Stage II(B), and Stage III(C) having almost similar symptoms.
In stage II(A) and (B), the cancer is still in the prostate. It is spreading inside the prostate, but it has not yet grown beyond it. Even in this stage, the doctor may not be able to sense the tumor in the prostate through a digital rectal exam (DRE) or see it on an imaging test.
The tumor could be on half of one side of the prostate and not on both sides. The Gleason score will be less than 7 and the PSA level will be less than 20.
In Stage III(C), cancer has still not spread in the nearby tissues of the prostate. The doctor will still not be able to detect it in the Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) or sense it on an imaging test. Here, the Gleason score will be less than 7 or 8 and the PSA level will be less than 20. The difference in this stage is that the cancer cells appear to be more abnormal than the other two stages.
This stage can also be further divided into three parts: Stage III(A), Stage III(B), and Stage III(C).
In Stage III(A), the Gleason score is less than or equal to 8 and the minimum PSA level is 20. However, cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes and has not spread outside the prostate. Moreover, even if this is stage III, the doctor may not be able to detect it in a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) or even sense it on an imaging test.
In Stage III(B), however, cancer has spread outside the prostate but remains to spread to the lymph nodes or reach the distant parts of the body. The Gleason score is equal to or less than 8. Stage III(C), has similar symptoms, however, the Gleason score in this stage is less than 9 or 10.
This stage can be further divided into two stages: Stage IV(A) and Stage IV(B).
In stage IV(A), cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes and vessels in the body, but it has not spread to the nearby tissues or traveled to the distant parts of the body. The Gleason score and PSA level will certainly be of a higher value.
In this last stage, Stage IV(B), cancer has traveled to the distant parts of the body such as lymph nodes, bones, and other organs. The Gleason score and Prostate Specific Antigen level will certainly be of a higher value.
Keeping these stages of prostate cancer into consideration and to promote well-being, it is really important to get a health check-up of your body every day, to detect cancer, if any, at the onset.