- Epidemiology and Classification
- Detection of Prostate Cancer
- Management Options
Following a positive diagnosis of prostate cancer (PCa), staging investigations are conducted to determine the pattern of disease spread according to the TNM classification (see section on pattern of disease spread under classification). The principal investigations are DRE, PSA testing and bone scanning, supplemented with computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and chest X-ray in specific situations.4 The outcome of staging investigations will have a major impact on treatment decisions.
T-staging refers to assessment of the primary tumour. The distinction between intracapsular (T1/T2) and extracapsular disease (T3/T4) is particularly important regarding treatment.4 Although digital rectal examination (DRE) may underestimate the degree of tumour extension, further investigations for T-staging are recommended if they will directly affect the treatment decision (i.e. if radical therapy becomes an option following the T2/T3 distinction).4 If this is the case, MRI is currently the most accurate modality for T2, T3 and T4, uni- or bilateral disease, extraprostatic extension (EPE) and seminal vesicle invasion (SVI), and the invasion of structures respectfully, in men with PCa.4,7
Evaluation of lymph node involvement is necessary if it will affect the treatment decision, which is usually the case if potentially curative therapy is being considered.4 Patients with PSA <20ng/ml, T-stage T2a or less and Gleason score ≤6 have a low risk (<10%) of nodal metastasis, may not undergo N-staging before potentially curative therapy.4 Imaging for determination of N-stage has limitations and surgical lymphadenectomy remains the gold standard for establishing nodal status.4
Bone scanning (scintigraphy) is the usual imaging modality for detecting skeletal metastasis.4 Although sensitive, it is not diagnostically very specific, so patients often require additional imaging to confirm suspicious bone scan readings.11 Since PSA level is a major predictor of positive bone scan,12 this investigation may not be indicated in asymptomatic patients with PSA <20ng/ml and low or intermediate Gleason score.4 Other sites of metastatic spread include distant lymph nodes, lungs, liver, brain and skin, but further investigations are indicated if symptoms suggest the presence of soft-tissue metastases.4