If one of your loved ones has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, then you may be interested in knowing how far the disease has progressed. There are a number of classification systems used to determine prostate cancer aggressiveness; here are three examples of the most common ones:
The Gleason Grading
The Gleason Grading is used to determine how far cancer has progressed in the prostate gland. According to WebMD, the grading system uses the numbers 1 to 5, with 1 being the nearly normal state of the cells and 5 the most aggressive. Since grades 1 and 2 usually indicate nearly normal cells, most people who have been diagnosed with this form of cancer have Gleason Grades ranging from 3 to 5.
The progression of prostate cancer cells is usually determined by the glandular growth patterns in the tumor. For example, in stage 3, the cancer has spread into the surrounding tissues of the prostate, but the glands still look normal. For stage 5, the glands are abnormal looking.
Now at any one time, a cancerous prostate will contain a mixture of cancerous cells and glands in varying stages of aggressiveness. For example, some cells may be normal looking (grade 1 or 2), others may be a bit aggressive (grade 3 or 4) while others may be in late-stage aggressiveness.
To get the Gleason Score, the oncologist performing the diagnosis looks at the two most common grades in the prostate and gets their sum. Therefore, the lowest score is 6 (for those who exhibit grades 1 and 5), and the highest score is 10 (if all the tissues have reached grade 5). This score predicts the aggressiveness of the cancer, or how fast it is spreading to other tissues.
Prostate-Specific Antigen Level
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) is produced by the prostate gland, and its levels increase in those who have prostate cancer. Therefore, the level of PSA is another indicator of how far a prostate cancer has advanced. A doctor has to compare pre-diagnosis PSA levels with the post-diagnosis levels of the same antigens to get their accurate indicative nature.
Obviously, this classification method only works for those who had been going for PSA screenings before they were diagnosed with the disease. This is why men over the age of 50 are encouraged to consult their physicians about the risks of developing prostate cancer. Going for PSA screening is only advisable after having this consultation.
Talk to an oncologist to find more about prostate cancer. Don't forget that the disease progresses differently in different people, so it is neither advisable nor accurate to compare diagnosis results from different people.
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