If the biopsy shows that you have cancer, your doctor needs to learn the extent (stage) of the disease to help you choose the best treatment. Staging is a careful attempt to find out whether the tumor has invaded nearby tissues, whether the cancer has spread and, if so, to what parts of the body.
Some men may need tests that make pictures of the body:
- Bone scan- The doctor injects a small amount of a radioactive substance into a blood vessel. It travels through the bloodstream and collects in the bones. A machine called a scanner detects and measures the radiation. The scanner makes pictures of the bones on a computer screen or on film. The pictures may show cancer that has spread to the bones.
- CT scan- An x-ray machine linked to a computer takes a series of detailed pictures of your pelvis or other parts of the body. Doctors use CT scans to look for prostate cancer that has spread to lymph nodes and other areas. You may receive contrast material by injection into a blood vessel in your arm or hand, or by enema. The contrast material makes abnormal areas easier to see.
- MRI- A strong magnet linked to a computer is used to make detailed pictures of areas inside your body. The doctor can view these pictures on a monitor and can print them on film. An MRI can show whether cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other areas. Sometimes contrast material makes abnormal areas show up more clearly on the picture.
When cancer spreads from its original place to another part of the body, the new tumor has the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the primary tumor. For example, if prostate cancer spreads to bones, the cancer cells in the bones are actually prostate cancer cells. The disease is metastatic prostate cancer, not bone cancer. For that reason, it’s treated as prostate cancer, not bone cancer. Doctors call the new tumor "distant" or metastatic disease.
Stages of prostate cancer:
Stage I: The cancer can’t be felt during a digital rectal exam, and it can’t be seen on a sonogram. It’s found by chance when surgery is done for another reason, usually for BPH. The cancer is only in the prostate. The grade is G1, or the Gleason score is no higher than 4.
Stage II: The tumor is more advanced or a higher grade than Stage I, but the tumor doesn’t extend beyond the prostate. It may be felt during a digital rectal exam, or it may be seen on a sonogram.
Stage III: The tumor extends beyond the prostate. The tumor may have invaded the seminal vesicles, but cancer cells haven’t spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage IV: The tumor may have invaded the bladder, rectum, or nearby structures (beyond the seminal vesicles). It may have spread to the lymph nodes, bones, or to other parts of the body.
Read Prostate Cancer Treatments to learn about treatment options. It will help you determine, which treatment is best for you.
Source: National Cancer Institute
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