If you or someone you care about has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer, this section will help guide you through the complexities of this diagnosis and other issues to consider.
A doctor typically diagnoses prostate cancer after closely examining biopsy cells through a microscope. There are several types of cells in the prostate, and each contributes in its own way to the prostate’s development, architecture, and function.
But cancer cells look different than normal prostate cells. Pathologists look for these differences first to detect the presence of cancer and then to determine the cancer grade.
- Gleason Grading – The Gleason grading system accounts for the five distinct patterns that prostate tumor cells tend to go through as they change from normal cells to tumor cells. The cells are scored on a scale from 1 to 5. “Low-grade” tumor cells (those closest to 1) tend to look very similar to normal cells. “High-grade” tumor cells (closest to 5) have mutated so much that they often barely resemble the normal cells.
- The Gleason Score – The pathologist looking at the biopsy sample assigns one Gleason grade to the most similar pattern in your biopsy and a second Gleason grade to the second most similar pattern. The two grades added together determine your Gleason score (between 2 and 10).
Generally speaking, cancers with lower Gleason scores (2 – 4) tend to be less aggressive, while cancers with higher Gleason scores (7 – 10) tend to be more aggressive. It’s also important to know if any Gleason 5 is present, and most pathologists will report this. Having any Gleason 5 in your biopsy or prostate puts you at a higher risk of recurrence.
More information about UNDERSTANDING A DIAGNOSIS can be found on the Prostate Cancer Foundation website including information about staging the disease, issues to consider, and questions to ask.
7 BASICS ABOUT PROSTATE CANCER
- THE PROSTATE
- RISK FACTORS
- PREVENTION & SYMPTOMS
- EARLY DETECTION & SCREENING
- UNDERSTANDING A DIAGNOSIS
- TREATMENT OPTIONS
- LIVING WITH ADVANCED DISEASE
The information above has been supplied by the Prostate Cancer Foundation. For more information about prostate cancer, or to find out more about the Prostate Cancer Foundation, visit www.pcf.org.