After Prostate Cancer Has Been Diagnosed Tests Are Done To Find Out If Cancer Cells Have Spread Within The Prostate Or To Other Parts Of The Body
The process used to find out if cancer has spread within theprostate or to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. The results of the tests used to diagnoseprostate cancer are often also used to stage the disease. In prostate cancer, staging tests may not be done unless the patient has symptoms or signs that the cancer has spread, such as bone pain, a high PSA level, or a high Gleason score.
The following tests and procedures also may be used in the staging process:
Understanding Prostate Cancers Progression
To determine the appropriate treatment, doctors need to know how far the cancer has progressed, or its stage. A pathologist, the doctor trained in analyzing cells taken during a prostate biopsy, will provide two starting pointsthe cancers grade and Gleason score.
- Cancer grade: When the pathologist looks at prostate cancer cells, the most common type of cells will get a grade of 3 to 5. The area of cancer cells in the prostate will also be graded. The higher the grade, the more abnormal the cells.
- Gleason score: The two grades will be added together to get a Gleason score. This score tells doctors how likely the cancer is to grow and spread.
After a biopsy confirms prostate cancer, the patient may undergo additional tests to see whether it has spread through the blood or lymph nodes to other parts of the body. These tests are usually imaging studies and may include a bone scan, positron emission tomography scan or computed tomography scan.
Prostate cancer treatment: The care you need is one call away
Your multidisciplinary team will work with you to develop a personalized plan to treat your prostate cancer in a way that fits your individual needs and goals.
Surgically Removing The Prostate Gland
A radical prostatectomy is the surgical removal of your prostate gland. This treatment is an option for curing prostate cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate or has not spread very far.
Like any operation, this surgery carries some risks, such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
In extremely rare cases, problems arising after surgery can be fatal.
It’s possible that prostate cancer can come back again after treatment. Your doctor should be able to explain the risk of your cancer coming back after treatment, based on things like your PSA level and the stage of your cancer.
Studies have shown that radiotherapy after prostate removal surgery may increase the chances of a cure, although research is still being carried out into when it should be used after surgery.
After a radical prostatectomy, you’ll no longer ejaculate during sex. This means you will not be able to have a child through sexual intercourse.
You may want to ask your doctors about storing a sperm sample before the operation so it can be used later for in vitro fertilisation .
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Are Prostate Problems Always A Sign Of Prostate Cancer
Not all growths in the prostate are cancerous, and not all prostate problems indicate cancer. Other conditions that cause similar prostate cancer symptoms include:
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia : At some point, almost every man will develop benign prostatic hyperplasia . This condition enlarges the prostate gland but doesnt increase cancer risk. The swollen gland squeezes the urethra and blocks the flow of semen and urine. Medications, and sometimes surgery, can help.
- Prostatitis: Men younger than 50 are more prone to prostatitis, inflammation and swelling of the prostate gland. Bacterial infections are often the cause. Treatments include antibiotics or other medications.
Causes Of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common form of male reproductive organ cancer. There are two types of prostate cancers, glandular and non-glandular.
Glandular tumours are more aggressive, spread faster than other forms, and require surgery to remove them completely.
Non-Glandular prostate tumours grow slower but can still be a concern if theyre not monitored extensively by your physician or specialist. Its also important to note that some men with benign prostatic hyperplasia may have an increased risk for developing both types of prostate cancer over time as well.
The causes of prostate cancer can be attributed to a few factors.
Age Prostate cancer is more likely the older you get, with about 50% of prostate cancers found in men over 65 years old. Men who have lived past age 80 are at an even higher risk for developing this condition.
Diet Research from the University of Southern California suggests that eating foods high in soy or calcium may reduce your risk for developing prostate cancer. Other studies have pointed out a connection between omega-three fatty acids and lower levels of testosterone , so be sure to include those in your diet if youre looking into prevention methods.
Other factors which have been linked to higher risks are certain chemical exposures like pesticides or heavy metals, such as cadmium and mercury.
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What Causes Prostate Cancer
Experts arent sure why some cells in the prostate gland become cancerous . Genetics appear to play a role. For example:
- Youre two to three times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father, brother or son has the disease.
- Inherited mutated breast cancer genes and other gene mutations contribute to a small number of prostate cancers.
If Your Prostate Cancer Comes Back
If your cancer goes into remission but later returns, follow-up treatments will depend on where the cancer is located and which treatments youâve already tried.
- If the cancer is contained in your prostate, surgery or a second attempt at radiation is suggested. If you’ve had a radical prostatectomy, radiation therapy is a good option. If you had radiation, radical prostatectomy might be the best approach. Cryosurgery might also be an option.
- If the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, hormone therapy might be the most effective treatment. External or IV radiation therapy or bisphosphonate drugs can relieve your bone pain.
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Types Of Prostate Cancer Staging
There are two types of staging for prostate cancer: clinical staging and pathological staging.
Clinical staging is determined by the PSA testing, Gleason score, and results of the Digital Rectal Exam . Once the doctor has all of this information, then you may need additional testing . The results of these tests can provide more information that your doctor and medical team can then use to identify the stage.
- Pathological staging is discovered during surgery as well as through laboratory results of biopsies from the tissue removed from the prostate during surgery. This is typically when lymph node involvement is determined.
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Treatment Options For Prostate Cancer
There are a number of different treatments for prostate cancer. You may have a choice of treatments such as surgery or radiotherapy. Or your doctor might suggest that you have monitoring of your cancer instead of treatment straight away. Your doctor will recommend the best treatment for you.
This page is about treatment for people who have prostate cancer that hasnt spread to other parts of the body. We also have information about treatment for people who have prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. This is metastatic or advanced prostate cancer.
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Expert Review And References
- American Cancer Society. Treating Prostate Cancer. 2019: .
- American Society of Clinical Oncology. Prostate Cancer. 2020: .
- Tracy, CR. Prostate Cancer. eMedicine/Medscape 2020: .
- PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. Prostate Cancer Treatment Patient Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute 2020: .
- PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. Prostate Cancer Treatment Health Professional Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute 2020: .
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Prostate Cancer . 2020: .
- Zelefsky MJ, Morris MJ, Eastham JA. Cancer of the prostate. DeVita VT Jr., Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds.. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer 2019: 70: 1087-1136.
- Parker C, Castro E, Fizazi K et al . Prostate cancer: ESMO clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis, treatmentand follow-up. Annals of Oncology. 2020: 31: 1119-1134. .
What Is Advanced Prostate Cancer
When prostate cancer spreads beyond the prostate or returns after treatment, it is often called advanced prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is often grouped into four stages, with stages III and IV being more advanced prostate cancer.
- Early Stage | Stages I & II: The tumor has not spread beyond the prostate.
- Locally Advanced | Stage III: Cancer has spread outside the prostate but only to nearby tissues.
- Advanced | Stage IV: Cancer has spread outside the prostate to other parts such as the lymph nodes, bones, liver or lungs.
When an early stage prostate cancer is found, it may be treated or placed on surveillance . Advanced prostate cancer is not curable, but there are many ways to treat it. Treatment can help slow advanced prostate cancer progression.
There are several types of advanced prostate cancer, including:
With biochemical recurrence, the prostate-specific antigen level has risen after treatment using surgery or radiation, with no other sign of cancer.
Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer
Non-Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer that no longer responds to hormone treatment and is only found in the prostate. This is found by a rise in the PSA level, while the testosterone level stays low. Imaging tests do not show signs the cancer has spread.
Metastatic Prostate Cancer
- Lymph nodes outside the pelvis
- Other organs, such as liver or lungs
Metastatic Hormone-Sensitive Prostate Cancer
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Followup By Primary Care Physicians
The American Cancer Society has released evidence- and expert-based guidelines for the management of prostate cancer survivors by primary care physicians , a response to the fact that as the number of men surviving prostate cancer has increased, reliance on PCPs for their care has grown as well. The guidelines address promotion of healthy lifestyles, surveillance for disease recurrence, screening for second primary cancers, and evaluation and management of adverse physical and psychosocial effects caused by the disease and its treatment. Recommendations include the following :
Radiation Therapy Plus Androgen Ablation Therapy
Androgen ablation has been shown to improve survival in men with localized disease who are treated with external radiation. DAmico et al reported higher overall survival with the combination of radiation therapy and 6 months of ADT in men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer. Median follow-up was 7.6 years.
A study by Jones et al found that for patients with stage T1b, T1c, T2a, or T2b prostate cancer and a PSA level of 20 ng/mL or less, short-term ADT increased overall survival in intermediate-riskbut not low-riskmen. The 10-year rate of overall survival was 62% with combination therapy, versus 57% with radiation therapy alone 10-year disease-specific mortality was 4% and 8%, respectively. In this study, ADT was given for 4 months, starting 2 months before radiation therapy.
In a study by Pisansky et al of 1489 intermediate-risk prostate cancer patients, disease-specific survival was not significantly different whether total androgen suppression was given for 8 weeks or for 28 weeks prior to radiation therapy. Patients in the study were randomized to 8 or 28 weeks of TAS with LHRH agonist, along with a daily nonsteroidal antiandrogen, prior to radiation treatment. This was followed in both groups by an additional 8 weeks of androgen suppression, administered concurrently with radiotherapy.
Taken together, radiation therapy is generally given for 4-36 months, depending on the risk group of the patient.
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There Are Three Ways That Cancer Spreads In The Body
Cancer can spread through tissue, the lymph system, and the blood:
- Tissue. The cancer spreads from where it began by growing into nearby areas.
- Lymph system. The cancer spreads from where it began by getting into the lymph system. The cancer travels through the lymph vessels to other parts of the body.
- Blood. The cancer spreads from where it began by getting into the blood. The cancer travels through the blood vessels to other parts of the body.
Cancer Staging May Miss Errant Cells
Once a pathologist confirms that cancer is present, the doctor will next determine how far the cancer extends a process known as cancer staging and discuss the implications with you. This is perhaps the most important information of all for you to obtain, as it determines whether the cancer is likely to be curable, or whether it has already spread to additional tissues, making prognosis much worse.
If you were my patient, I would ask you to consider two important points. First, cancer staging actually occurs in two phases: clinical and pathological . Of the two, pathological staging is more accurate.
A second point to understand, however, is that even pathological staging can be inaccurate . A cancer spreads, or metastasizes, once a primary tumor sheds cancer cells that travel elsewhere in the body and establish other tumor sites. Metastasis is a complex process that researchers do not fully understand. What is clear is that this process involves multiple genetic mutations and steps, and that each type of cancer spreads in a unique way.
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Active Surveillance And Watchful Waiting
Active surveillance means that no treatment is administered. Instead, youre given routine tests to monitor how the cancer changes over time.
Doctors usually recommend active surveillance if your cancer is unlikely to spread to organs far away from your prostate. Active surveillance typically involves regular PSA screenings and visits with a doctor. You may also get a prostate biopsy every few years to look for the presence of cancerous cells.
Watchful waiting may also be used if youre older or have any other serious health issues. You wont receive treatment or routine tests during watchful waiting, but you may be given treatment to help relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Options For Dealing With Recurrence
With a persistently increasing PSA, the suspicion for recurrence increases. The most important factor in assessing your long-term outcome is determining the location of the prostate cancer cells producing the PSA. Advanced imaging techniques, such as MRI and PSMA PET/CT, are often helpful in learning where the cancer is located, and in the case of post-radiation recurrence, repeat biopsy may be required.
If a man underwent surgery as an initial treatment, revisiting the post-operative pathology report may help to identify what contributed to the recurrence. If there was still cancer present , the cancer was aggressive , or genomic profiling of the tumor showed high-risk features, several options are available:
- EBRT to the prostate bed with or without the pelvis.
- EBRT accompanied by hormone therapy. The duration of hormone therapy will depend on the PSA level just prior to radiation and to a lesser extent on the Gleason score and staging of the cancer.
- Systemic treatment using hormone therapy, other treatments for those at risk for metastatic disease, or a combination.
- Active surveillance if the remaining cancer appears insignificant. You and your doctor can decide whether to intervene more aggressively and, if so, when.
If youâre seeking additional or different approaches, you may be eligible to participate in an appropriate clinical trial . You can research this with the help of your doctor.
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Stage 2 Cancer Treatment Options
In general, stage 2 cancers tend to be treated locally with surgery and/or radiation. At times, chemotherapy or other drug therapies may also be a part of stage 2 cancer treatment. Below, find stage 2 cancer treatment options for the five most common cancers.
Stage 2 breast cancer treatment: Stage 2 breast cancer tends to be most commonly treated with surgerya lumpectomy or mastectomyand radiation treatment afterward. During the surgery, doctors check the nearby lymph nodes for cancer, too. Most patients also have medication as part of their treatment plan: either chemotherapy, breast cancer targeted therapy, hormone therapy or a combination.
Stage 2 lung cancer treatment:Stage 2 lung cancer is typically treated with surgery. Some people may also have chemotherapy after surgery. For patients who cant have surgery, radiation may be a treatment option.
Stage 2 prostate cancer treatment: For stage 2 prostate cancer, treatment depends on the patients symptoms, age and overall health. If the patient is older and isnt experiencing symptoms, doctors may simply keep an eye on how the tumor is doing and treat it if theres any drastic change. However, stage 2 cancers are more likely to spread without treatment than stage 1 cancers. Treatment options may include surgery, surgery followed by radiation, radiation only, or radiation with hormone therapy.
Expert cancer care
Is Prostate Cancer Curable
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men, second only to skin cancer. Learning that one has any type of cancer isnt easy, but the first question on most patients minds after diagnosis is, is prostate cancer curable?
The short answer is yes, prostate cancer can be cured, when detected and treated early. The vast majority of prostate cancer cases are discovered in the early stages, making the tumors more likely to respond to treatment. Treatment doesnt always have to mean surgery or chemotherapy, either. Non-invasive radiation therapy can effectively treat prostate cancer in the case of Pasadena CyberKnife, radiosurgery treatment generally takes less than a week, and you can typically resume your normal activities the same day you receive treatment.
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