Staging Prostate Cancer

Staging systems provide doctors with a common language for describing tumors. After prostate cancer is diagnosed, a series of tests are used to investigate the extent of the cancer and to see whether it has spread to other parts of the body from where it started.

Staging is a way of recording the size, aggressiveness and growth of a cancer, and determining the plan for treatment. By understanding the stage of your cancer, you can make informed decisions about your treatment.

Staging prostate cancer attempts to discover the following:

  • The size of the tumor
  • Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and tissues
  • Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body

Stages of Prostate Cancer

Staging prostate cancer helps urologic oncologists compare an individual situation to other patients with prostate cancer. They can also review clinical studies on groups of patients in similar cancer stages to determine how the cancer may behave and how different treatments may work.

The stages of prostate cancer are:

  • Stage I: Cancerous cells are confined to the body of the prostate. The stage may be classified as 1A, 1B, or 1C depending on how deeply the cancer has invaded the prostate lining.
  • Stage II: Cancer is found in the body of the prostate, but has not spread outside the prostate. Stage II cancers may be further classified as Stage IIA or IIB depending on whether the cancer has invaded the supportive tissue around the prostate.
  • Stage III: The cancer has spread outside the prostate, and may be in the seminal vesicles. In Stage IIIA, cancer has not spread to the seminal vesicles. In Stage IIIB, the cancer has spread to the seminal vesicles.
  • Stage IV: The cancer has spread beyond the prostate and into tissues beyond the seminal vesicles such as the urethral sphincter, the rectum or the wall of the pelvis.