Prostate Cancer Risk Group: How It’s Determined
When prostate cancer is diagnosed, doctors need more information than a confirmation alone to determine how to proceed with treatment recommendations. One of the more common ways doctors determine the aggressiveness of this type of cancer is assigning it to a Prostate Cancer Risk Group. These groups indicate the likelihood that cancer will spread and how quickly that might happen. Risk groups are used to help doctors determine what type of treatment or combination of treatments might be best suited to a particular patient’s case.
There are three main factors that help determine an individual patient’s Prostate Cancer Risk Group. They are:
- Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test results – This simple blood test can provide a lot of information about the health of the prostate. When prostate cancer is present, cells within the gland tend to produce more of this antigen, which can be measured in blood samples. The PSA test may also be used to screen for this disease and is one of the first measures taken when cancer is suspected.
- Prostate Cancer Stage – Staging prostate cancer calls for analysis of one or several tests. The stage represents the progression of prostate cancer within the gland itself and any spread that may have occurred. When prostate cancer is deemed early stage, it means it is localized or confined to the gland. If it has spread beyond the prostate capsule to other nearby organs or distant body parts, the cancer will be graded at a more advanced stage.
- The Gleason Score – This score is obtained following a biopsy of prostate tissues. The samples are viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to examine the nature of the cells found within. The higher the Gleason score is, the greater the risk the cancer is likely to pose.
In order to make appropriate treatment recommendations following a diagnosis of prostate cancer, doctors need to understand the risk a tumor may pose. One of the ways this is achieved is by performing the tests necessary to assign a patient to a particular Prostate Cancer Risk Group.