What does staging for prostate cancer mean and what is the impact that stage has on my treatment?

Expert Opinion published on June 28, 2013 in Diagnosis & Screening
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Tomasz Beer, MD
Professor of Medicine Oregon Health & Science University
Knight Cancer Institute
Portland, Oregon
What does staging for prostate cancer mean and what is the impact that stage has on my treatment?

Hello, my name is Dr. Tom Beer and I am professor of medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute. I am often asked what does staging for prostate cancer mean and what is the impact that stage has on my treatment? Staging broadly defined is the work that needs to be done to define how extensive the cancer is in a person’s body. That may include a careful examination of the prostate gland to define whether the lesion is so-called palpable or can be felt on examination, whether it involves just one lobe of the prostate or both, and in patients with higher risk features it may also involve imaging studies such as a bone scan to look for bone metastases, or a CAT scan to look for lymph nodes or spread to other internal organs. Taken together the combination of the examination of the prostate and when appropriate imaging studies defines the stage of the cancer, and treatment is very much governed by the stage. So patients who have a cancer that is only localized to the prostate have the option of considering treatment with curative intent such as surgery, radiation whether implantable radiation through brachytherapy or external beam treatment, or may wish to be observed for low-grade cancers. Patients’ whose stage is higher often require medical treatment that can control the cancer wherever it may be, so staging is always the first step in evaluating a patient with a new diagnosis of prostate cancer and then defines which treatments are an option for that patient to consider. Thank you very much for your attention.

Last modified: June 28, 2013
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