When a person is diagnosed with cancer a process called staging is carried out. Stages refer to the marking of the cancer from I to IV to determine how far the cancer has spread. The international system used to classify cancer is called TNM staging, which refers to the tumor, node, and metastases.
Staging prostate cancer correctly is very essential as the stage of the disease determines the treatment. Once prostate cancer has been diagnosed the physician will establish how far the disease has progressed. In the first stage PSA tests and the biopsy would have identified the existence of the cancer.
The second stage reveals that the cancer has affected the prostate to some extent. The third stage will determine that the whole of the prostate is affected as are adjoining tissues or the bladder. The fourth stage reveals the extent to which the cancer would have spread to other parts of the body.
In TNM staging the oncologist will look at the size of the tumor, the involvement of the lymph node, and the cancer’s metastasis. Stage T1 will confirm by biopsy the existence of the cancer though it cannot be seen or felt. Further subdivisions mean that the percentage of cancer in the prostate will be identified. Stage T2 will determine that either one or both sides of the prostate have been affected but that it is so far restricted only to the prostate.
Stage T3 will identify that the cancer has in fact spread to other parts beyond the prostate and the oncologist can determine if the seminal glands have been affected or not.
In stage T4 the tumors would have spread to the bladder or the rectum. Stage N refers to the spread or not of the cancer to the lymph nodes while in the M stage the tumor would have gone beyond to other parts of the body such as in the pelvic area or the bone.
The TNM system can also identify a cancer as being recurrent perhaps after remission or when all visible tumors have been destroyed.
The Jewett-Whitmore system is also sometimes used to stage prostate cancer in the United States. Oncologists also use the Gleason Score to stage prostate cancer criteria.
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