Stages of prostate cancer
Being diagnosed with prostate cancer is not easy news to assimilate. Still, this cancer is different from many others in that the majority of cases are very slow-progressing, and the 5-year survival rate after diagnosing this disease is close to 100%. Still, prognosis highly depends on the stage of prostate cancer and whether or not it has spread to other tissues.
Staging prostate cancer follows a basic pattern that is shared with other types of cancer. It evaluates three aspects: Tumor Stage (T), Lymph Node Stage (N) and Metastasis Stage (M). They are divided as follows:
- T1: A tumor that is not felt on digital rectal examination, not seen in images, but found in surgery.
- T2: A larger tumor that can be felt on digital examination. It is subdivided into a, b and c depending on the localization and size of the tumor.
- T3: A large tumor that exceeded the limits of the prostatic capsule.
- T4: A tumor that exceeded the limits of the prostatic capsule and spread into nearby tissues.
- N0: When the tumor has not spread to any lymph node.
- N1: A large tumor that already spread to one or more lymph nodes.
- M0: When the tumor has not spread to distant areas of the body.
- M1: When the tumor has already metastasized to distant lymph nodes (M1a), to the bones (M1b) or to other distant areas or tissues (M1c).
Besides staging prostate cancer according to its extent, it is important to evaluate the Gleason score. This scoring system evaluates the cellular structure of cancer and requires a biopsy or an excision of the prostate to analyze the sample. After evaluating the shape of the prostate cancer cells, the pathologist will be able to give a score from 1 to 5 depending on how mutated, and abnormal prostate cells are.
According to this scoring system, a 1 and 2 score does not pose any risk, and 5 is a high-grade and aggressive prostate cancer.