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January 3, 2008

An Overview of the 4 Prostate Cancer Stages

Finding out which prostate cancer stage you might have is the key to your treatment options. The most common system of determining one's stage is the four-stage TNM system, also known as Tumor/Nodes/Metastases system. There are four prostate cancer treatment stages, and the severity is higher as the number goes up.

If your prostate cancer is limited to the prostate (Stages I and II) and it is well or moderately differentiated (a Gleason score of 7 or below), the 5-year outcome is considered excellent for all three treatment options: watchful waiting, surgery, or radiation therapy. Stage I describes the cancer, which has been found through a biopsy or an elevated PSA levels.

Stage II (sometimes referred to as stage B) is when tumor cells are found in less than 5 percent of prostate tissue removed, and the cells are more aggressive in nature, or the tumor is larger in size, but is confined to the prostate gland. It describes the cancer that is still located inside the patient's prostate gland.

Stage III (sometimes referred to as stage C) is when the tumor has grown through the capsule which surrounds the prostate gland, and may involve seminal vesicles (tubes that carry sperm). It describes a cancer that has spread beyond the covering of the prostate, which may have grown into 'seminal vesicles' and spread on the patient's tissues and local organs.

Stage IV (sometimes referred to as stage D1 or D2) is when the tumor has spread to other structures beyond the seminal vesicles to any other organ or structure. Stage IV describes a cancer that has already grown and spread into the rectum, pelvic wall, neck of the bladder, lymph nodes, bones, liver, lungs and other parts of the body.
Knowing the stage is important because it helps doctors decide the best treatment. Some treatments are usually better for tackling a particular stage than another.

Treatment

Treatment decisions should be made by a patient and his health service provider. Treatment by watchful waiting, HIFU, radiation therapy, cryosurgery, and surgery are generally offered to men whose cancer remains within the prostate. One possible treatment with anti-testosterone drugs lowers bone density and may lead to a high rate of broken bones. This is called LHRH-agonist therapy and may cause subtle changes in cognition. No treatment is perfect; each has benefits and side effects that you should know about up front so you can make the right decision.

Generally, prostate cancer stages are determined by different tests, such as bone scan, MRI or CT scan and rectal test. The purpose of prostate cancer stages is to know whether the lymph nodes have already been affected by the tumor and whether the tumor has spread beyond the prostate gland. Each of these four stages has sub-stages and a treatment to complement it. This information is important to help doctors decide the most appropriate treatment for your condition.

Are you looking for information about prostate cancer stages? For more important information on prostate cancer, the prostate gland, and natural prostate cancer treatments, please visit http://www.onlineprostatehealth.com for more information.

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