COLORADO SPRINGS — We have been working all month to bring you stories about prostate cancer awareness. In this story we're talking about the most common types of prostate cancer and how they are diagnosed.
Dr. Gary Bong, MD [ppuro.com], is a urologist with Pikes Peak Urology [ppuro.com] in Colorado Springs and says, “The majority of prostate cancers are called adenocarcinoma and there are different grades that can be aggressive high-grade disease, to indolent low-grade non life-threatening disease.”
Determining the severity of the cancer is a two-step process, says Dr. Bong. “That process starts with a grading system assigned by the pathologist as they look at the specimen under the microscope. That’s a number called the Gleason score. Then the urologist takes the Gleason score, along with the patient's PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen), and uses those two variables to categorize the cancer.”
The prognosis for prostate cancer caught early is very good, which is why screening with a focus on monitoring the PSA level in blood is so very important.
Dr. Bong says, “This is not pancreas cancer, this is not aggressive colon cancer, this is treatment that is trying to prevent guys from having a complication from prostate cancer 10 to 15 years down the road. The survival rates of prostate cancer are excellent, especially when it's caught in the early stage and it's confined to the prostate. In fact, most men can expect a cancer-specific survival at 10 years of 98%, and at 15 years of 95%, so again the survival rates are excellent.”
However, Dr. Bong is quick to point out the outlook is not as positive for prostate cancer that is not caught early. “The flip side of that is once the prostate cancer gets out of the prostate and becomes metastatic, the 5-year survival is only about 31%, so it's imperative that we try to catch guys when the prostate cancer is localized.”
In our next story, we'll talk about the most common treatment options for prostate cancer and their side effects.
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