Staging is one way of organizing the information obtained from the prostate biopsy and staging tests that have been previously described to determine the overall stage of your prostate cancer. Knowing the stage of the cancer helps determine the best treatment option for you. The most commonly used system to describe the extent of cancer spread is the TNM classification system:

T – the extent of the prostate cancer
N – absence or presence of spread of the prostate cancer to lymph nodes
M – absence or presence of distant metastasis

The purpose of staging is to determine the size and location of the tumor, whether it has spread outside of the prostate gland, and the characteristics of the prostate cancer cells. Various tests are available, and your urologist will decide which are needed to appropriately stage your prostate cancer.

Gleason Score

A specialized doctor called a pathologist examines prostate cancer cells under a microscope and assigns a number (Grade) depending on how much the cells mimic the patters of normal prostate cells. The Gleason Score is a sum of the grades of the two most common patters seen under the microscope. Gleason scores range from 2 -10.

The higher the score, the more aggressive the prostate cancer is and the more likely it is to grow quickly and spread. Thus, a patient having a Gleason Score of 8 has a significantly more aggressive tumor than somebody having a score of 4 or 5.