Cancer Staging (TNM-stages)
How far has the cancer spread?
Prostate cancer is described as ‘localized’, ‘locally advanced’ disease or ‘advanced’. It starts with changes in the cells of the prostate. The cells form a lump that may eventually be felt in a physical examination. Surgeons describe how far the cancer has spread according to ‘TNM stages’, standing for primary Tumor, Nodes and Metastasis. The T stage tells you the size of the tumor and is usually detected using a DRE or an MRI scan. The N stage tells you whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and is usually detected using an MRI or CT scan. Nodes can be N0 (negative) or N1 (positive). N1 indicates that the cancer has spread outside the prostate to one or more local lymph nodes. The M stage tells you whether the cancer has spread to other areas in the body and it is usually detected using a bone scan. Metastasis can be M0 (negative) or M1 (positive). M1 indicates that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Around 60% of patients are diagnosed with early disease and 40% are diagnosed at a later stage. However, even when prostate cancer has reached the late stage, it may still be possible to slow down its growth.