Cancer staging is a way to describe how much cancer is in your body and where it is located in your body. Prostate cancer staging helps determine how big your tumor is, whether it has spread, and where it has spread.
Knowing the stage of your cancer helps your cancer team:
- Decide the best way to treat the cancer
- Determine your chance of recovery
- Find clinical trials you may be able to join
How Prostate Cancer Staging is Done
Initial staging is based on the results of PSA blood tests, biopsies, and imaging tests. This is also called clinical staging.
PSArefers to a protein made by the prostate measured by a lab test.
- A higher level of PSA can indicate a more advanced cancer.
- The doctors will also look at how fast the PSA levels have been increasing from test to test. A faster increase could show a more aggressive tumor.
A prostate biopsy is done in your doctor's office. The results can indicate:
- How much of the prostate is involved.
- The Gleason score. A number from 2 to 10 that shows how closely the cancer cells look like normal cells when viewed under a microscope. Scores less than 6 suggest the cancer is slow growing and not aggressive. Higher numbers indicate a faster growing cancer that is more likely to spread.
Using the results from these tests, your doctor can tell you your clinical stage. At times, this is enough information to make decisions about your treatment.
Surgical staging (pathological staging) is based on what your doctor finds if you have surgery to remove the prostate and perhaps some of the lymph nodes. Lab tests are done on the tissue that's removed.
This staging helps determine what other treatment you may need might. It also helps predict what to expect after treatment ends.