Since June is Men’s Health Awareness month, we want to raise awareness about the most common type of cancer found in men: prostate cancer.
Cancer of any kind can be a devastating experience for patients and their loved ones, and it’s important to understand what each stage might mean.
In this article, we will discuss the four different stages of prostate cancer and each stage’s possible treatment options.
Stages of cancer indicate how far the cancer’s spread from its origin point. But the American Cancer Society advises that with prostate cancer, stages also depend on PSA levels and Gleason scores.
During stage I, cancer can only be detected through a prostate biopsy. The cancer will not have spread to nearby lymph nodes, and the tumor (mass of cancer cells) can’t be seen or felt by hand.
Based on the results, doctors predict the likelihood of the cancer spreading. Further testing may be required to gain a better understanding of the cancerous cells.
Prostate cancer in stage I is traditionally treated through active surveillance. But other treatment options include surgically removing the prostate gland, or radiation therapy, often administered alone or in tandem with surgery. Thankfully, prostate cancer at this stage is considered mild and treatable as it is still localized in the prostate gland. But stage I can grow and spread quickly.
At stage II, the mass of cancerous cells, now forming a tumor, are identifiable by rectal examination or digital imaging.
Thankfully, the cancer has still not spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body. body. However, it is possible for the cancer to continue to develop within the prostate.
At this point, effective treatment is vital to give a man a fighting chance. According to Texas Oncology, men with stage II prostate cancer have several treatment options available including, surgical removal of the tumor, radiation therapy with brachytherapy, or external beam radiation.
Combination treatments may help fight stage II prostate cancer. If treatment is not effective, things can get more difficult.
Stage III prostate cancer occurs when cancer cells have a high risk of spreading through a man’s seminal vesicles. Stage III and stage IV are considered advanced, but still treatable.
WebMD advises that some treatment options for advanced prostate cancer include:
- Hormone therapy
Treatment plans will vary from patient-to-patient, depending on potential success and risks. Other possible treatment options include chemotherapy, vaccine therapy, and clinical trials.
The Cancer Treatment Centers of America defines stage IV prostate cancer as a period when cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the cancer cells often spread to the lymph nodes, bones, and liver.
Treatment is still available for men with stage IV prostate cancer. But since the cancer has spread so extensively, full recovery is unlikely and the focus of treatment shifts.
Instead of killing the cancer cells, the goal of treatment becomes slowing the growth of cancer cells, thereby extending the patient’s life.
Typical treatment for stage IV prostate cancer is hormone therapy. This treatment slows the spread of the cancer cells by stopping the production of testosterone and blocking testosterone from reaching cancer cells. Radiation can also be used to relieve patients of pain and other symptoms.
How We Can Help
While there is no way to entirely prevent prostate cancer, being proactive by getting regular medical attention can help spot changes in health. This often results in deadly diseases, like prostate cancer, being caught when they can still be effectively treated.
If you would like to get screened for prostate cancer or any other conditions, schedule an appointment today!