Prostate cancer generally develops in the prostate gland’s peripheral region and is generally a small mass of cancerous tissue that a digital rectal exam (DRE) will often miss. However, the PSA test or ultrasound exam will catch the small mass. This is stage one of the cancer also known as T1 cancer.
If the cancer is left alone, it will continue to grow inside the prostate, creating abnormalities that can be felt by a DRE. The disease is now in stage two or T2 cancer.
As you see, both stage 1 and 2 cancer is situated only in the prostate gland. It’s treated surgically, using radiation therapy, using ultrasound or with cryosurgery.
If the cancer continues to grow, it will branch out to the surrounding tissue in the pelvic region, moving to stage three or T3 cancer. As the prostate cancer cells move beyond the prostate and pelvic region, the cancer moves into stage four or T4 cancer. It’s in these last two stages that the disease can be classified as “advanced prostate cancer”.
Advanced prostate cancer treatment is generally designed to slow down the progression of the disease so that the patient can have a better quality of life and a longer life span. While prostate cancer can be cured in these stages (more so in stage 3), the disease is highly advanced and is extremely difficult to cure. Thus, the reality of it all is that treatment is more about managing the disease than curing it.
Prostate cancer cells must have testosterone to grow; thus, the primary treatment for advanced prostate cancer is the hormone treatment that reduces the amount of testosterone being generated.
Hormone therapy can include using drugs that will lessen the levels of testosterone in the body or block the action of it and other male hormones. Your doctor may also suggest an orchiectomy, which is the removal of the testicles, which generates 95 percent of the testosterone in the body.
There are some stage four cases in which hormone therapy is not effective or results are limited. Thus, patients will need to undergo chemotherapy or systemic radiation therapy.