Along with the stage of your cancer, you should understand the grade of your cancer to make the treatment decision that's best for you.
National Cancer Institute - Cancer Staging
The TNM staging system classifies a tumour based on tumour, nodes, and metastasis. A summary of what each stage means and its substages are found below.
Stage T1 describes a small tumor that is confined to the prostate, and is not detected during a digital rectal exam. This stage of prostate cancer usually produces no symptoms.
T1a - Less than 5% of the prostate is affected by the tumor. This cancerous tissue would be found by doing a biopsy of the prostate and looking for cancer cells in the tissue samples.
T1b - More than 5% percent of the prostate is affected by the tumor.
T1c - Tumor identified by needle biopsy, PSA elevated.
In stage T2, cancer is more advanced than in stage T1, but is still confined to the prostate.
T2a - the tumour involves less than one half of one lobe of the prostate.
T2b - the tumour involves more than one half of one lobe of the prostate, but remains confined to a single lobe.
T2c - the tumour involves both lobes of the prostate.
The tumor has begun to spread beyond the prostate to areas surrounding the gland such as the seminal vesicles or bladder.
T3a - The tumour breaks through the capsule surrounding the prostate on a single side.
T3b - The tumour breaks through the capsule surrounding the prostate on both sides.
T3c - The tumour invades the seminal vesicles.
The tumor has spread beyond the prostate into surrounding structures. It may also have spready beyond the seminal vesicles to other nearby tissues such as the rectum, lymph nodes, or pelvic wall.
T4a - Tumor invades the bladder, external urethral sphincter, or rectum.
T4b - Tumour invades the muscles of the pelvic floor.
The N stages refer to whether or not any cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes in the pelvic area. When your doctor assigns an N stage to your cancer, it will be one of the following:
Metastatis refers to the spread of the cancer beyond its local area and to other areas of the body. Prostate cancer often finds its way into the lymphatic system and into bone. If your doctor determines that you have cancer in your lymph nodes, he may order tests to find out if the cancer has travelled through the lymph system to other parts of the body. These tests may include a bone scan, CT scan, or MRI.
M0 - No distant metastasis.
M1a - Spread into lymph nodes that are not within the same area as the primary tumour.
M1b - Cancer has spread into bone. These types of metastases may be found by doing a bone scan.
M1c - Other metastases are found in sites other than bone and lymphatic system.