Not all prostate cancer is the same. It ranges from cancer confined to the prostate gland to cancer that has spread outside of the prostate to the lymph nodes, bones, or other parts of the body. You can determine the extent or spread of the cancer by knowing the stages of prostate cancer:
What Are the Stages of Prostate Cancer?
The tumor is confined to the prostate.
The tumor is more advanced than Stage I, but doesn’t extend beyond the prostate.
The tumor extends beyond the prostate and may have invaded the seminal vesicles (tubular glands above the prostate), but cancer cells have not spread to the lymph nodes.
The tumor may have invaded the bladder, rectum or nearby structures (beyond the seminal vesicles) and may have spread to the lymph nodes, bone or to other parts of the body.
There are multiple types of advanced prostate cancer, including:
- Locally Advanced: Cancer that has grown to fill the prostate or has grown through the prostate and may extend into the glands that help produce semen (seminal vesicles) or the lymph nodes.
- Biochemically Recurrent (Rising PSA): Patients who have a rising prostate-specific androgen (PSA) after treatment, but do not show any evidence that the disease has spread to bone or other organs. This can occur after local treatment or after hormone therapy.
- Metastatic (Hormone-Sensitive): Cancer that has spread (metastasized) to the bone, lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
- Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer (CRPC): CRPC is prostate cancer that continues to grow despite the suppression of male hormones that help fuel the growth of prostate cancer cells.
- Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer (mCRPC): mCRPC is a form of advanced prostate cancer where the cancer has spread to parts of the body other than the prostate, and it is able to grow and spread even though drugs or other treatments to lower testosterone are being used to manage the cancer. That is, the cancer has the ability to thrive in a low testosterone environment.
Patients who have been treated for prostate cancer in the past will likely attend regular checkups. Your doctor will watch for any increases in your PSA level and the speed with which any increases occur. A higher PSA does not necessarily mean your cancer has come back. But it may mean that you need further tests, such as other imaging tests to help your doctor determine if the cancer has spread.
To find more information and resources on screening, we recommend visiting About Screening from the Prostate Conditions Education Council (PCEC).