Understanding The Types And Stages Of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a common cancer that affects men, particularly elderly men. It starts in the prostate gland, which surrounds the urethra at the base of the bladder, but it can spread to other parts of the body. When you're diagnosed with prostate cancer, your doctor will establish the type of prostate cancer you have, and this will help them establish the best course of treatment for you.

Types Of Prostate Cancer

There are four main types of prostate cancer, and each type is characterised by the cells the cancer first developed in. The most common type of prostate cancer is adenocarcinoma. This type of cancer starts in the lining of the prostate gland. When cancer begins in the lining of the tubes in your prostate, it's referred to as ductal adenocarcinoma. This form of prostate cancer is aggressive and is capable of spreading rapidly. Prostate cancer that starts in the lining of the urethra is referred to as urothelial and can spread to surrounding tissues. Squamous cell prostate cancer spreads quickly and starts in the cells that cover the outside of the gland.

Stages Of Prostate Cancer

Doctors use a number system to identify the size of the mass of cancer cells and how far the cancer has spread from your prostate. If prostate cancer is determined to be stage 1, less than half of one side of the gland is affected. Stage 2 refers to cancer that's contained within the prostate, but it's present in more than half of the gland. Stage 3 occurs when cancer has been found beyond the outer covering of the prostate gland, and the first place it spreads to is often the seminal vesicles, which carry sperm from the testes to the urethra.  Stage 4 refers to cancer that's spread into other organs, such as the liver or the lymph nodes.

Common treatment options include prostate cancer surgery to remove the prostate and radiotherapy to stop cancer cells growing. Hormone therapy can be used to prevent testosterone reaching the cancer cells, as this hormone can support the growth of these cells. High-intensity ultrasound is a newer treatment for prostate cancer and involves the use of a probe that emits an ultrasonic beam. The probe is placed in the back passage and the beam uses heat to kill the cancer cells.

Your doctor should inform you of the type and stage of prostate cancer you have, and you should be involved in making decisions regarding the treatment pathway and next steps. If there's anything you're not sure about during the course of treatment, ask your doctor to clarify it for you. Cancer treatment can be a long journey, so it's vital you and your doctors work together as a team.