You’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer and, while cancer is never welcome news, your disease is localized, which is a silver lining. Approximately 12% of men (1 of 8) are diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetimes, but most men do not die from the disease, especially when it’s localized.
To help you better understand what localized prostate cancer means, leading urologist and prostate specialist, Dr. Robert Cornell, and our team want to take this opportunity to focus on the topic here.
Cancer of any kind typically starts with abnormal cells that form a growth, or tumor. If the cells are benign, it means the growth doesn’t pose any risks and will stay localized. If the abnormal cells are malignant, however, these cancerous cells can spread via your blood vessels and/or lymph nodes and affect other parts of your body.
To diagnose prostate cancer and whether or not it’s localized, we perform a biopsy to remove small tissue samples from your prostate. We then take these tissues and study them under a microscope to search for abnormal or cancerous cells.
If we do find cancer cells, our next step is to grade or stage the disease. For grading, we turn to a Gleason score, which measures the aggressiveness of the cancer cells in your biopsy tissue. A Gleason score of 6 or lower is considered low risk while a score of 8 or higher is considered higher risk.
When you have localized prostate cancer, your Gleason score is usually below 8, which means we haven’t identified aggressive cancer cells that are faster growing and more likely to spread.
Most prostate cancer cells are, thankfully, slow growing, which is one of the reasons why 99% of men with prostate cancer live for at least 5 years after diagnosis.The other reason for this great survival rate is that we have successful ways of treating both localized and advanced prostate cancer.
Treating localized prostate cancer
Once we determine your Gleason score, we advise you of your treatment options. In some cases, the cancer may be slow growing and not require any interventional therapies. Instead, we actively monitor the cancer through frequent testing so we can take action should the cancer show signs of becoming more aggressive.
If your Gleason score shows signs of a potential problem, we may recommend:
- Radiation therapy (either internal or external)
- Hormone therapy
- Surgery to remove the cancerous tissue
The takeaway here is that when you have localized prostate cancer, your prognosis is excellent, especially if you have the right team in your corner, such as the one that Dr. Cornell heads.
If you have more questions about localized prostate cancer or you’d like to schedule an appointment at our office in Houston, Texas, simply click here.