Staging prostate cancer

Knowing the stage of your prostate cancer helps your treatment team to plan your treatment. Staging is based on the results of the tests you have had and describes the size of your cancer and if it has spread to other parts of your body.

 Prostate cancer may be:

• localised – confined to the prostate

• locally advanced – extended beyond the prostate to nearby areas

• advanced – spread to other parts of the body.

 While the Gleason score describes what the cancer looks like under the microscope, the stage of the cancer describes where the cancer is found. Staging is done using the TNM (tumour, node and metastases) system.

 Ko tā te kaute Gleason, he kōrero i te āhua o te matepukupuku i raro i te karu whārahi, ko tā te wāhanga taumata o te matepukupuku, he whakamārama i te wāhi kitea ai te matepukupuku. Whakamahia te wāhanga taumata mā te pūnaha TNM (tumour, node and metastases).


TNM staging of prostate cancer

The TNM system is used all over the world. It separately assesses the tumour (T), lymph nodes (N) and secondary cancer metastases (M).

 Prostate cancer stages:

 1.   Tumour (T) – the size of the primary cancer (tumour)



How far the cancer has spread


The cancer cannot be felt by the doctor or detected on ultrasound.


The doctor can feel the cancer but it does not appear to have spread beyond the prostate.


The cancer feels as though it has spread beyond the prostate into surrounding tissues.


The cancer has grown into surrounding organs such as the bladder or the rectum.

 staging 2  

staging 7



2. Lymph nodes (N) – the number of nearby lymph nodes that have cancer

NX – lymph nodes cannot be assessed

N0 – nearby lymph nodes do not contain cancer cells.

N1 – there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes near the prostate.

 staging 4

3.Metastasis (M) – describes whether the cancer has spread to a different part of the body

M0 – the cancer has not spread to other organs.

M1 – the cancer has spread to other parts of the body beyond the pelvis.

staging 5


 questionsQuestions you might like to ask your treatment team

You may want to think about the questions you want to ask your treatment team before you see them. Think about asking:

  • how advanced and at what stage your prostate cancer might be
  • what treatment they might advise and why they advise that treatment
  • what other treatment choices you might have
  • what the risks and possible side-effects of each treatment might be
  • how long the treatment might take and if you might have to stay in hospital
  • how the treatment might be provided and when it will begin
  • what the cost might be if you are treated privately
  • if you will be able to continue working, and if not, when you might be able to return to work
  • how frequent your check-ups might be.


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