Stage 3 Prostate Cancer Treatment


The stage of prostate cancer at diagnosis is typically determined by a staging system developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) called the TNM System along with the Gleason score and the PSA level of the patient.


The TNM system evaluates the tumor based on the following criteria:

T Category
The extent of the primary prostate tumor
N Category
Whether or not the prostate cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
M Category
The absence or presence of distant metastasis

Gleason score

The Gleason score is a method of evaluating (from two to 10) how the prostate tumor appears under a microscope. The lower the Gleason score, the closer the tumor looks as compared to normal tissue. The higher the Gleason score, the more the tumor looks abnormal, which increases the likelihood that it will spread.

PSA levels

PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels measure the amount that this specific protein is found in the blood. The higher the PSA level, the more likely prostate cancer is present.

Stage 3 Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer that has been diagnosed as Stage 3 is defined by a large (T3a-b) tumor that has spread beyond the prostate but has not yet reached the lymph nodes (N0) or organs such as the bladder or rectum (M0). Additionally, the Gleason score and PSA level can be in any range. Unlike Stage 1 and Stage 2 prostate cancer, those tumors diagnosed as Stage 3 are more likely to recur after antitumor treatment as compared to the earlier stages of prostate cancer.

Typical treatment options for Stage 3 prostate cancer may include one or more of the following:

The surgical removal of the entire prostate is typically performed in men who are diagnosed with Stage 3 prostate cancer. During surgery, the lymph nodes in the pelvis also will be removed to check to see if the cancer has spread from the prostate.
Radiation Therapy
This form of treatment uses high energy rays to kill the prostate cancer cells. In Stage 3 prostate cancer, external beam radiation is usually given after surgery. It also can be given at the same time as hormone therapy.
Hormone Therapy
Male hormones – also known as androgens – cause prostate cancers to grow. Hormone therapy options include surgery to remove the testicles, which stops the production of testosterone, a major source for the development of male hormones. Other options include drug therapy including luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LH-RH) agonists or antiandrogens, which work to either prevent the testicles from producing testosterone or block the action of testosterone. In Stage 3 prostate cancer, hormone therapy can be given alone as the only treatment or combined with radiation therapy.
Watchful Waiting or Active Surveillance
This method, which consists of no active treatment, is usually reserved for men that have another, more serious illness since some treatments for prostate cancer can cause debilitating side effects.
Clinical Trials
Depending on the advice of an oncologist, a patient diagnosed with Stage 3 prostate cancer also may consider enrolling in a clinical trial that is studying a new treatment option or a new combination of existing treatment options.


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