Understanding your prostate cancer
Watch our animation about understanding your prostate cancer:
What do my test results mean?
Your doctor will look at your test results to find out if the cancer has spread (its stage) and how quickly it might be growing.
How far has my cancer spread?
The stage of your cancer tells you whether it has spread outside the prostate and how far it has spread. You might need scans, such as an MRI, CT or bone scan, to find out the stage of your cancer.
Depending on the results, your cancer may be treated as:
- localised prostate cancer – it's contained inside the prostate
- locally advanced prostate cancer – it’s started to break out of the prostate or has spread to the area just outside it
- advanced prostate cancer – it’s spread from the prostate to other parts of the body.
Is my cancer likely to spread?
Your doctor may talk to you about the risk of your cancer spreading outside the prostate or coming back after treatment.
Your prostate biopsy results will show how aggressive the cancer is – in other words, how likely it is to spread outside the prostate. You might hear this called your Gleason grade, Gleason score, or grade group.
Your cancer may be low risk if:
- your PSA level is less than 10 ng/ml, and
- your Gleason score is 6 or less (grade group 1), and
- the stage of your cancer is T1 to T2a.
Your cancer may be medium risk if:
- your PSA level is between 10 and 20 ng/ml, or
- your Gleason score is 7 (grade group 2 or 3), or
- the stage of your cancer is T2b.
Your cancer may be high risk if:
- your PSA level is higher than 20 ng/ml, or
- your Gleason score is 8, 9 or 10 (grade group 4 or 5), or
- the stage of your cancer is T2c, T3 or T4.
What happens next?
The results should help you and your doctor decide which treatments might be suitable for you.
Ask your doctor or nurse to explain your test results if you don’t understand them. Or you could call our Specialist Nurses.
Updated: July 2019｜To be reviewed: September 2021
- Manit Arya, Consultant Urological Surgeon, University College Hospital, London
- Zoe Storton, Uro-oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Alastair Thomson, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust
- Karen Wilkinson, Uro-oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, University College Hospital, London
- Our Specialist Nurses
- Our Volunteers.
- Mottet N, Van den Bergh RCN, Briers E, Bourke L, Cornford P, De Santis M, et al. EAU - ESTRO - ESUR - SIOG Guidelines on Prostate Cancer. European Association of Urology; 2018.
- National Institute for Clinical Excellence. Prostate Cancer: diagnosis and treatment. Full guideline 175. 2014.