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Prostate cancer stages

If you undergo a prostate cancer biopsy, your Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) doctor will examine the tissues to learn more about the cancer cells. Some cancers may be more aggressive than others, and this information plays an important role in decisions about your treatment.

Gleason score

Your doctor will assign a Gleason score to the disease based upon its microscopic appearance. Cancer with a higher Gleason score is more aggressive.

Grade 1: The cancerous prostate closely resembles normal prostate tissues. The glands are small, well-formed and closely packed.

Grade 2: The tissue still has well-formed glands, but they are larger and have more tissue between them.

Grade 3: The tissue still has recognizable glands, but the cells are darker. At high magnification, some of the cells have left the glands and are beginning to invade surrounding tissue.

Grade 4: The tissue has few recognizable glands. Many cells are invading the surrounding tissue.

Grade 5: The tissue does not have recognizable glands. There are often just sheets of cells throughout the surrounding tissue.

The stages of prostate cancer are:

Stage I (stage 1 prostate cancer): In stage I, the cancer is confined to the prostate. Stage I can’t be detected during a digital rectal exam. It is usually expected to be slow growing.

Stage II (stage 2 prostate cancer): With stage II, cancer may be detected during a digital rectal exam. The disease is still confined to the prostate, but the cells may be abnormal and may grow faster.

Stage III (stage 3 prostate cancer): With stage III prostate cancer, the cancer is in tissues near the prostate. It also may have reached the seminal vesicles.

Stage IV (stage 4 prostate cancer): Stage IV prostate cancer means that cancer has invaded other parts of the body, such as the rectum, nearby lymph nodes or bone.

Next topic: How is prostate cancer diagnosed?