Prostate Cancer Home > Stages of Prostate Cancer

With regard to prostate cancer, staging measures the extent of the disease, and is based on the size of the tumor, whether the cancer has spread outside the prostate, and, if so, where it has spread. There are five stages: stages 1 through 4 and recurrent cancer. Tests used to determine stage include the digital rectal exam, PSA test, transrectal ultrasound, and biopsy.

Stages of Prostate Cancer: An Overview

A prostate cancer diagnosis is made by looking at prostate tissue under a microscope. A pathologist (a doctor who identifies diseases by studying tissues under a microscope) will look at the biopsied tissue for cancer cells. Once the disease has been identified, the doctor must determine both the stage and grade of the prostate cancer.
 
To plan your prostate cancer treatment, your doctor needs to know the extent (stage) of the disease. This is based on:
 
  • The size of the tumor
  • Whether the cancer has spread outside the prostate
  • If the cancer has spread, where it has spread.
     

Specific Stages

The stages of prostate cancer are as follows:
 
  • Stage I: The cancer cannot be felt during a digital rectal exam (DRE). It is found by chance when surgery is done for another reason, usually for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The cancer is only in the prostate.
     
  • Stage II: The cancer is more advanced, but it has not spread outside the prostate.
     
  • Stage III: The cancer has spread outside the prostate. It may be in the seminal vesicles. It has not spread to the lymph nodes.
     
  • Stage IV: The cancer may be in nearby muscles and organs (beyond the seminal vesicles). It may have spread to the lymph nodes. It may have spread to other parts of the body.
     
  • Recurrent: The cancer has come back (recurred) after a time when it could not be detected. It may recur in or near the prostate. Or it may recur in any other part of the body, such as the bones.
     
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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