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Understanding the Stages of Prostate Cancer

Receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer can be overwhelming enough without trying to decipher all the terminology that seems to go with it. Like any cancer, prostate cancer has its own language and it is often spoken of in terms of stages and grades. Ultimately managing your prostate cancer care and deciding on the appropriate treatment with your doctor comes down to first truly understanding your disease. To that end, it’s important to understand the stages of prostate cancer.

Early stage prostate cancer – stages 1 and 2 – refers to localized cancer that is still confined to the area of its origin. At these stages, there is no sign of the cancer having spread to other parts of the body. Of course, this is the optimum stage in which to diagnose the disease and begin treatment for the highest potential for cure.

Stage 3 prostate cancer refers to the stage in which the cancer has moved beyond the outer layer of the prostate and can be found in some nearby tissues and/or glands. This is considered to be regional cancer.

Stage 4 prostate cancer refers to the stage in which the cancer has metastasized, meaning that it has spread to other tissues, organs, and/or the lymph nodes.

Staging is determined by a digital rectal exam (DRE), a trans-rectal ultrasound (TRUS), and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Through staging determination, doctors will be able to assess whether the cancer is contained in its original location or has spread beyond the prostate – important information for developing a treatment plan.

Depending on your stage of prostate cancer, your treatment will be tailored to address the cancer appropriately.