The PSA and DRE are tools which doctors use to diagnose you for prostate cancer. If you test positive for prostate cancer during the screening process, your doctor will likely order a biopsy for you. A prostate cancer biopsy uses ultrasound to guide your doctor in finding the best section of your prostate to ‘snip’ off for further analysis. You are generally given an enema and antibiotics to guard for possible infection during the procedure.
The doctor will take an image of your prostate to note its size and shape for any abnormalities. You must lie on your side and will be given local anesthesia as a probe is inserted into your butt. Shadows which are the precursor to cancer will show up on the image. If your prostate is of average size, the doctor will likely use his or her needle to remove only a tiny section of your prostate. More significant parts may be needed if your prostate is huge because large prostates are often a sign of prostate cancer.
Your cancer will be given a number which is referred to as a “Gleason Score” in the world of oncology. This will indicate its severity.
Stages of Prostate Cancer
Since prostate cancer tends to develop slowly, it progresses in stages. There are four stages of prostate cancer. In the first stage, the tumour is restricted just to the prostate gland. Doctors use the Tumor, Nodes, and Metastasis (TNM) method to assess the phase that your prostate cancer is there. The doctor can use the DRE now to find tumours. CT and bone scans will also help him, or she finds tumours and nodes. Imaging tests indicate the stage of metastasis. Your doctor will generally order an imaging test only if your cancer has a Gleason Score of at least seven and a risk factor of 10.
If you have stage I prostate cancer, your tumour is so small that an imaging test of the physical exam would not identify it. Doctors can identify 80% of people in this stage, and almost all these people survive it.
Tumours are sometimes detectable at this stage, though frequently they are not. Doctors break this stage down into two phases: IIA and IIB. Doctors can identify stage II prostate tumours because of their higher Gleason scores which make them more prone to faster growth.
The cancer is more invasive at this stage because it has metastasized, generally to the seminal vesicles, but sometimes to other vital organs which are nearby. You should know that some cancers that are stage IV are classified as stage III because the extent of metalization is not extreme. Almost all the people treated in this stage survive.
This is the most severe form of prostate cancer with the lowest survival rates. Tumours in this state have metastasized to nearly all vital organs, including lymph nodes, lungs, your liver, your bones, your bladder. Less than a third of the people diagnosed and treated at this stage survive. Current survival rates are only 29%.
The impressive part is that the timely diagnosis helps in proper treatment of the patient. This is evident from the survival of so many prostate cancer patients in the past.