When a man is found to have prostate cancer, the cancer is ranked on a Gleason scale of 2 to 10, with 10 being the most severe cancer. The National Cancer Institute explains that the Gleason score is based on how different the cancer cells look from normal cells and how likely it is that the cancer will spread.
Patients and their doctors face a difficult choice when the Gleason score comes back in the middle range, around a six, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the person has a lethal disease.
Some doctors may recommend active surveillance in such cases, which means that patients go in for routine check-ups and biopsies to see if their cancer progresses. Others may decide to have their prostates surgically removed or get treated with radiation, getting rid of the cancer but risking unfortunate side effects.
“I think as our imaging gets better and our molecular risk stratification -- looking at the various genes -- we’re going to be able to determine where that cancer it is, how aggressive it is, and we’re going to have [treatment options] in between nothing and everything,” said Lepor. "I believe that is going to help us treat this disease more effectively."
For now, speak with your doctor about the most effective treatment strategies for your individual case.