Prostate Cancer Overview

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Staging of prostate cancer

Staging is the process of finding out the extent of the cancer. It is very important because your treatment and the outlook for your recovery depend on the stage of your cancer.

The stage is based on the prostate biopsy results (including the Gleason score), the PSA level, and any other exams or tests that were done to find out how far the cancer has spread. These tests are described in the section "How is prostate cancer diagnosed?"

Putting it all together to get the stage of the cancer

There are different staging systems for prostate cancer. Most doctors use the AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer) system. Many factors are taken into account when deciding the stage of a cancer.

After looking at your test results, the doctor will tell you the stage of your cancer. Be sure to ask your doctor to explain your stage in a way you understand. This will help you work with your doctor to decide on your treatment.

The AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer) staging system

In the AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer) staging system, stages of prostate cancer are labeled using Roman numerals I through IV (1 - 4). As a rule, the lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, such as stage IV (4), means a more advanced cancer.

You can ask your doctor to explain more about the stage of your cancer and how it relates to your treatment options.


Last Medical Review: 08/27/2013
Last Revised: 09/12/2014