Prognosis at a young age for prostate cancer

Last Modified: April 11, 2003


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My son is 41 yrs. old and has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Does his finding prostate cancer so young necessarily mean it's a bad sign for his future? 


Alan J. Wein, MD, Professor and Chair of the Division of Urology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, responds:

The answer is no. Prognosis (how well your son does in the future) will depend on the Gleason score and the stage (the degree of advancement) of his disease. The Gleason Score is used to "grade" prostate cancer cells obtained by needle biopsy. The cells are given a number between 1 and 5-nearly normal cells are Grade 1 and the most abnormal are Grade 5. Then the grades of the two most common cell patterns seen in the specimen are added together to determine the Gleason score. Gleason scores range from 2 to 10. The higher the score, the more aggressive the cancer. Using the TNM staging system, his doctor will tell him the stage of his disease. Under the TNM Staging System: T refers to the size of the primary tumor, N will describe the extent of lymph node involvement, M refers to the presence or absence of metastases. His doctor will then explain the common treatment methods for his stage.