The prostate gland produces a protein called prostate-stimulating antigen, or PSA.
Often, PSA levels will begin to rise before there are any symptoms of prostate cancer. Sometimes, an abnormal digital rectal exam may be the only sign of prostate cancer (even if the PSA is normal). If you have an elevated PSA, your doctor may have recommended a biopsy to tell if you have prostate cancer.
Many men who come to Penn's Abramson Cancer Center have already received a biopsy result that is positive for prostate cancer. However, before a personalized treatment plan is developed, our team provides a thorough evaluation to ensure the most accurate diagnosis. This may include an endorectal coil MRI of the prostate gland and pelvis, an advanced diagnostic technique developed at Penn Medicine, that currently represents the optimal method for visualizing the local anatomy and assessing the extent of the disease.
The Gleason Grade and Gleason Score
The biopsy results are reported using what is called a Gleason grade and a Gleason score.
The Gleason grade tells you how fast the cancer might spread. It grades tumors on a scale of 1 to 5. You may have different grades of cancer in one biopsy sample.
The two main grades are added together. This gives you the Gleason score. The higher your Gleason score, the more likely the cancer is to have spread past the prostate.
The chart below shows diagnoses for different Gleason scores.
Learn More About Prostate Cancer Treatment at Penn
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer or an abnormal PSA, you're probably wondering what to do next. Look to Penn's Abramson Cancer Center for the most advanced cancer program in the region - for full insight on all your options including a second opinion for prostate cancer treatment.
Our team will:
- Help you understand your PSA levels and guide you towards the next steps you should take
- Ensure you have the most accurate diagnosis using advanced diagnostics
- Offer you the most advanced surgical and radiation treatment options – all in one place
- Answer your questions about the potential side effects of all your options
- Provide an unbiased opinion on your best treatment option
Call 800-789-7366 (PENN) to schedule a consultation with a Penn prostate cancer specialist.
Watch a Five-Part Video Series about Prostate Cancer