UNDERSTAND YOUR DIAGNOSIS
Understanding your diagnosis is the first step in your journey. Your doctor may have told you that you have prostate cancer based on something called the Gleason score, a PSA Blood Test, or a Biopsy. It is important to know how your doctor came to that conclusion and the steps that were taken to get there.
PSA Blood Test
The prostate naturally makes a protein called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) that loosens semen to aid sperm in reaching the egg during sexual intercourse. The PSA Blood Test analyzes the amount of PSA in your blood and higher levels may mean you have an enlarged prostate and/or prostate cancer is present. The results from your PSA Blood Test are vital pieces of information that can help assess a man’s risk for prostate cancer.
The Biopsy, Gleason Grade and the Gleason Score
When your PSA blood test and/or DRE suggest may have developed prostate cancer, a biopsy will be performed to provide accurate information to help make a conclusion. During this short and virtually painless procedure, your doctor will retrieve multiple tissue samples from your prostate. These tissue samples will then be sent to a lab to be analyzed.
A pathologist will analyze your biopsy sample under a microscope to see if the tissue contains any cancer cells. Prostate cancer cells are scored on a scale from 1 to 5 (with 1 being the lowest grade and 5 being the highest). If cancer is indeed present, the tissue samples are assigned with a Gleason grade for the first and second most predominant identified patterns. These two grades are added together to establish your Gleason score which will range anywhere between 2 and 10. Although more aggressive cancers are scored between 7 and 10, having any Gleason 5 should be taken very seriously.