The first stage, called Stage I or Stage A1, of prostate cancer is the case when the cancerous cells are limited to inside of the prostate gland. This stage is not readily detected by such diagnostic techniques as imaging or digital rectal exam. Mostly, it is discovered accidentally, especially during surgery of the prostate gland for treating other problems like prostate enlargement.
Stage 2 prostate cancer is more advanced than Stage 1, though it is also confined to the prostate tissue. It is also known by various other terms like Stage A2, B1, or B2. In Stage 3, also called Stage C prostate cancer, the cancer grows outside the prostate gland and affects the neighboring tissues. It may affect the glands that assist in the production of semen.
Of all the prostate cancer stages, the fourth stage (Stage 4) is the deadliest one. In this stage, also termed Stage D1 or Stage D2, cancer has spread to other body parts like rectum, bones, bladder, and liver at the time of diagnosis. About 20% to 30 % prostate cancer patients are diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer.
The lifetime of patients suffering from prostate cancer varies with the particular stage in which their cancer is first diagnosed. Above 65% (and up to 98%) people, who are diagnosed with the first two prostate cancer stages (Stage 1 or Stage 2), live for more than five years after the first diagnosis. Almost 60% of patients diagnosed with Stage 3 prostate cancer live for more than five years after the diagnosis. In case of Stage 4 prostate cancer, 30% of patients live for more than five years after the first diagnosis. These statistics correspond to patients who continue appropriate treatment after diagnosis with prostate cancer. In case of no or poor treatment, survival may not exceed two years.
Treatment varies for the four prostate cancer stages. For cases of Stage 1 prostate cancer, surgical removal of the entire prostate gland may be performed. Radiation therapy may or may not be used for treatment. Radiation, if applied, may be used to target the cancerous cells either from outside the body or by implanting special internal devices (catheter, wires, or needles), carrying the radioactive material, in or near the cancerous tumor.
In case of Stage 2 patients, hormone therapy may also be used as a mean of treatment. In Stage 3, the surgeon may use cryosurgery i.e. freezing the tissues in order to kill cancerous cells, in addition to hormone and radiation therapies. In Stage 4, surgical removal of one or both testicles (called orchidectomy) may be necessary to the survival of the patient.