Stages of Prostate Cancer
The hospital doctor will talk to the patient about stages of prostate cancer.
The stage of a cancer tells the doctor how far the cancer has spread. It is important because knowing the stage helps doctors decide the best treatment. One treatment is usually better for tackling a particular stage than another
Staging takes into account the size of the tumour, whether the llymph nodes) are affected and whether the tumour has spread anywhere else.
Prostate cancer has four basic stages which are
- Stage 1: the cancer is very small and completely inside the prostate gland which feels normal when a rectal examination is done.
- Stage 2: the cancer is still inside the prostate gland, but is larger and a lump or hard area can be felt when a rectal examination is done.
- Stage 3: the cancer has broken through the covering of the prostate and may have grown into the seminal vesicles
- Stage 4: the cancer has grown into the neck of the bladder, rectum or pelvic wall, or has spread to the lymph nodes or another part of the body.
Sometimes these stages are called A – D (with A being Stage 1), particularly if you are being treated in North America where the system is called the Dukes’-Jewett Staging System.
T (Tumour Staging) stages of prostate cancer
For their records, doctors use a slightly more complicated staging system called the TNM system. This is used all over the world. It separately assesses the tumour (T), lymph nodes (N) and secondary cancer or metastases (M).
This is the T (tumour) staging:
T1 The tumour is too small to be seen on scans or felt during examination of the prostate. (It has been discovered by needle biopsy.)
- T2 The tumour is completely inside the prostate gland
- T3 The tumour has broken through the capsule (covering) of the prostate gland
- T4 The tumour has spread into other body organs (secondary prostate cancer) nearby such as the rectum (back passage) or bladder
N (lymph node) staging
Lymph nodes are described as being ‘positive’ if they contain cancer cells. If a lymph node has cancer cells inside it, it is usually bigger than normal. The more it is affected by the cancer, the bigger it will be. N0 No cancer cells found in any lymph nodes
This is the N ( Lymph node staging) ;
- N1 One positive lymph node smaller than 2cm across
- N2 More than one positive lymph node. Or one that is between 2 and 5cm across
- N3 Any positive lymph node that is bigger than 5 cm across
M ( Metastes staging) Cancer spread to the bones
This is the M staging for metastases (cancer spread);
- M0 No cancer spread outside the pelvis
- M1 Cancer has spread outside the pelvis
OK so how does all this work.. Explain!
So, a cancer described as T2 N0 M0 would be
- a cancer that is entirely within the prostate
- with no cancer spread to lymph nodes
- or spread outside the pelvis