The importance of Gleason score

A prostate cancer diagnosis is one of the most devastating things that a man can hear, and it’s often followed by the question: “What are my options for treatments?” If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you have likely heard your doctor refer to the Gleason Score.

The Gleason Score is one of the most important tools as it’s used to predict how quickly prostate cancer is growing and how aggressive the cancer cells are. To learn more about how the Gleason Score is graded, click here to read our Gleason Page. Your Gleason Score is typically detailed in your Prostate Pathology Report.

What the Prostate Pathology Report Includes

Simply put, a pathology report is based on your biopsy analysis and provides further details about your cancer and whether abnormal cells or cancer are present. Based on your prostate screening, your doctor may order a biopsy to rule out whether cancer is present.

The report will present one of three levels of prostate health:

  • Negative or “benign” – Cancer is not present
  • Atypical or abnormal – There are changes in your prostate cells, but it doesn’t not necessarily mean cancer is present
  • Positive – Prostate cancer was found in your biopsy sample

If abnormal cells or cancer are found, the next step is to grade the prostate cancer, which will help your doctor determine your treatment options or how often you’ll need future screenings.

What the Gleason Score Determines

A prostate cancer diagnosis alone is not sufficient enough to start treatment right away. While treatment may seem like an ideal solution, many prostate cancer treatments, such as surgery and radiation, have severe life-altering side effects such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. The impact of these side effects can have a lasting negative change on men’s quality of life, mental health, and relationships.

For this reason, doctors will want to know how aggressive the cancer is to determine the right course of action. If you have low-risk cancer, you may be advised to undergo active surveillance (commonly referred to as watchful waiting) and avoid treatment altogether, so long as the cancer doesn’t start to spread.

If your Gleason Score is high or has increased since the last test, your doctor may recommend starting active prostate cancer treatment. Other factors that doctors take into account for treatment are your age, general health, PSA test levels, how much cancer there is, and genetics.

Advocating for Your Prostate Health

Most prostate cancers are low-risk with slow growth or no growth at all, making survival rates good for this type of cancer. However, some types are aggressive and spread quickly.

Whether you’ve undergone a biopsy to detect prostate cancer or you’re deciding whether to screen for prostate cancer, one of the best things you can do is be proactive and advocate for your health. By gathering information from trusted resources and speaking with your doctor, you can make informed decisions about your prostate health.

Jun 13, 2023 | TULSA Procedure

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