Information on Prostate Cancer Stages

Prostate cancer is a tumor that is found in older men which may be cured if it is localized and which responds to treatment if it has spread further. The growth of the tumor can vary from slow to quite rapid and some men have survived long after the cancer has metastasized to the bone. It is wise to discuss every aspect of treatments and therapies with your doctor so that you have all the information you need regarding the types of treatments and side effects/complications etc, before you choose your treatment.

Stages 1 and 2:
Patients with prostate stages 1 and 2 have a disease that is localized. The Gleason Pathologic Grade Test can predict if there will be penetration of the prostate gland capsule, invasion of the seminal vesicle or even spreading of the cancer to lymph nodes situated nearby. TRUS (Transrectal Ultrasound) facilitates the diagnosis by needle biopsy but the ultrasound cannot assess the size of the lymph node. CT (Computed Tomography) detects nodes that are enlarged but is not reliable for the pelvic node staging as compared to staging that is surgical. MRI is used to detect prostate cancer extra capsular extensions. Both the Ultrasound and the MRI can reduce understaging and improves the selection for therapy that is localized.

Two commonly used systems for cancer stages/staging:

o The Jewett system
The Jewett System has stages A to D. Stage A is a tumor that is not detectable clinically and is localized to the prostate gland. Stage B is a tumor that is confined to the prostate gland; Stage C is a tumor that is localized to the periprostatic area but has extended through the capsule and may involve the seminal vesicles. Stage D is when the cancer has mestastasized.

o The TNM System.
Also known as the Tumor, Node, Metastasis, the TNM is helpful in ascertaining the size of the tumor and to check if there are any lymph nodes containing cancer cells. This system is also used to check if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This system primarily uses numbers to accurately describe the stage of the cancer.

The ‘T’ is in the range of 1 to 4, with 1 being a small tumor and 4 being a large tumor.
‘N’ is measured in the range of 0 to 3, in this 0 indicates no positive lymph nodes and 3 means many lymph nodes.

‘M’ can be either 0 or 1, 0 indicates that the cancer is localized and not spread while ‘1’ means that it has conclusively spread.

Stage 3 and 4 Cancer:

This stage is also defined by the Jewett Staging System and the American Joint Committee on Cancer’s TNM classification system T3, NO; MO and G. EBRT (External Beam radiation Therapy). Hormonal therapy in combination with radiation therapy should be used for patients who do not have co-morbidities that are severe. Since most Stage 3 patients have symptoms that are urinary related, radiation therapy, transurethral resection of the prostate, radical surgery and hormonal manipulation should be considered in the treatment process.

A primary therapy used in stages 3 and 4 is androgen suppression with hormonal therapy which is given continuously to the patient. Clinical trials for prostate cancer stages 3 and 4 include Cryosurgery which is still under clinical evaluation. This technique involves the freezing of the tissue followed by thawing to destroy the cancer cells. Treatment selection for prostate cancer stages will depend on the age of the patient, present medical illnesses, other symptoms and the presence of bone metastases or lymph node involvement.

Early cancer stages:

These refer to the cancer that is entirely contained in the prostate gland itself and has not spread either to the distant body parts or to surrounding tissues and bone. This type of cancer is most curable and called a low-risk disease. The basic options for the early prostate cancer stages are:

o Radiation therapy: either radioactive seeding or EBR (External Beam Radiation)
o Surgery
o Active Surveillance: also known as watchful waiting or expectant management.

Is There a Lung Cancer Cure?

About 13 percent of all lung cancer is curable, meaning that those diagnosed with it survive for at least five years. Regardless, all patients with lung cancer can benefit from targeted treatments that can expand lifespan and improve quality of life.

Treatment options for a specific lung cancer cure depends upon the type and stage of the cancer. While a non-small cell cancer in an early stage may find a cure with surgery alone, a small cell cancer in a similar stage may require a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, and sometimes surgery as well. In both small cell and non-small cell lung cancers, an early stage indicates that the cancer is still localized and has not spread from where it originated, while a later stage signifies that the cancer has spread to other organs.

Surgery has the potential to cure lung cancer, but only in early stages in which the cancer has not spread outside the chest. Among the procedures employed to surgically remove cancer are: wedge resection, in which a small section of the lung, including the tumor, is removed; segmental resection, in which a larger section of the lung is removed; lobectomy, in which an entire lobe of one lung is removed; and pneumonectomy, in which the entire lung is removed. However, these procedures are only possible if the patient can tolerate the surgery and does not have additional complications such as severe bronchitis or heart disease.

Many small cell lung cancers are treated with chemotherapy, either alone or in combination with surgery. This therapy involves taking drugs that kill cancer cells. The drugs may be taken either orally, as a pill, or intravenously, through a vein in the arm, and involve multiple treatments over several weeks or months. Patients on chemotherapy need to take breaks from the therapy occasionally to allow their bodies to recover. Though chemotherapy has side effects like nausea, vomiting, and hair loss, it undoubtedly prolongs lifespan and improves quality of life for patients with lung cancer.

Radiation therapy is similar to chemotherapy in that it targets and kills cancer cells. But unlike chemotherapy, radiation therapy can work from outside the body, using high-powered radiation like X-rays to kill the disease. Another option is to use needles, seeds, or catheters inside the body to channel the radiation near the cancer cells. It is sometimes used at the same time as chemotherapy.

Certain drugs also exist on the market for curing or managing lung cancer. These products work by exploiting abnormalities in cancer cells.

A less conventional path to take for treatment of lung cancer is clinical trials. Patients can enroll in these studies and receive experimental treatments, a good option for those whose current treatment isn’t working or who have limited treatment options. Each year, hundreds of lung cancer patients enroll in clinical trials; the data collected through this method of research is put to use in creating new therapies and treatments for the disease. Often, the goal of a clinical trial is simply to determine the benefit of one treatment over another.

If all these treatments fail or are not available for a treatment, the patient may opt for supportive care rather than searching for a cure. Instead of harsh or experimental treatments, supportive care can ease symptoms and comfort patients, allowing them to make the most of their remaining time without the burden of treatment side effects.