Most prostate cancers grow slower than other types of cancer, although this is not always the case. How the prostate cancer cells behave depends partly on the grade, as determined by a pathologist and the stage, as determined by a urologist. Treatment decisions will depend of the grade and stage of the cancer.
The grade gives an idea of how quickly the cancer may develop. The Gleason system is used to grade prostate cancer. Low-grade cancers usually grow slowly and are less likely to spread. Higher grade cancers are more likely to grow quickly and spread to other body parts.
More information about the Gleason system can be found here: http://www.prostate.org.au/awareness/for-recently-diagnosed-men-and-their-families/localised-prostate-cancer/diagnosis/
Stage is a term used to describe the cancer’s size and whether it has spread beyond the prostate. Prostate cancer discovered before it has grown outside the prostate gland is known as ‘localised prostate cancer’ or ‘early prostate cancer’.
Some types of localised prostate cancer grow slowly and are not aggressive. Other types grow more quickly and spread to other parts of the body. When this happens, it is called ‘advanced prostate cancer’.
There are different stages of prostate cancer:
- Localised – the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate
- Locally advanced – the cancer has extended beyond the prostate gland but is still confined in the prostate region
- Advanced – the cancer has spread to organs next to the prostate gland such as the bladder, rectum and pelvic wall
- Metastatic – the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body such as bone.
More information about the stages of cancer can be found here: http://www.prostate.org.au/awareness/for-recently-diagnosed-men-and-their-families/localised-prostate-cancer/diagnosis/
The biopsy provides information about the type and grade of the cancer. The grade of the cancer shows how fast the cancer might grow, and the stage shows how far it has spread.
This information, combined with your Gleason score, guides decisions about the best treatment approach.
Source: Reproduced from pcfa.org.au with minor modifications and with the kind permission of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.