This morning I had a a phone call in reply to the questions I emailed yesterday evening. David and Ian do get back very quickly which is excellent. The email asked a couple of questions that arose when I had given a bit more thought to yesterday’s conversation and a bit of research I did subsequently. The biopsies discovered additional more aggressive cancers and I had now been given a Gleason score of 7 (previously 6). The total score is made up by the addition of the individual scores for the grades of cancer. 3 is the lowest grade for slow developing cancer so the best grad to have that indicates cancer is 6. A score of 7 indicates that there is some cancer present of the next higher grade, 4, which indicates more aggressive and fast growing. The score of 7 can be a 3-4 or a 4-3 where the first score is for the most common grade. Mine turns out to be a 3-4 and, as the prognosis for this is better than for a 4-3, this constitutes good news!
However, I was also told at what stage my cancer had developed too, T3a. This is not good news as it is now deemed to be a ‘locally advanced’ prostate cancer. T3a means that the cancer has broken through the capsule of the prostate but there is no evidence of it having yet spread to the seminal vesicles, lymph nodes, bones or other adjacent organs. Ian on the phone this morning said that the tumour is ‘pressing on the surface’ which implies it hasn’t broken through yet. What this means thou is that remaining on active surveillance is no longer an option and some treatment is necessary. I am seeing the consultant on the 21st July when we get back from France and the recommendation is highly likely to be surgery, a radical prostatectomy. Whether I will need radiation treatment as well after the surgery will depend on what they find and subsequent pathology tests. Ian said they may go ‘a bit wider’ on the right side where the tumour is pressing and that this might lead to a bit more nerve damage. I assume this might have consequences for my rate of recovery form the normal side effects; incontinence and erectile dysfunction so it is something I will need to ask about..
According to this leaflet from Prostate Cancer UK surgery is not normal offered to men with advanced local cancer.
“A small number of men with locally advanced prostate cancer may be offered surgery (radical prostatectomy). This isn’t very common and is usually only offered as part of a clinical trial”.
Locally advanced prostate cancer http://prostatecanceruk.org/media/2491080/2796-locally-advanced-prostate-cancer.pdf
I assume that this is because once the cancer is through the capsule then surgery can no longer offer a cure and other treatments would be necessary anyway. Ian was talking this morning as if surgery was going to be recommended. If this is the case I can only assume they are confident that the tumour is still contained albeit pressing on the surface and so surgery is a good option with the chance of complete cure. The fact that he said they may need to go a bit wider where the tumour is pressing suggests they are not 100% confident as is the suggestion they may still recommend radiation treatment, depending on what they find while they’re in there.
All the Prostate Cancer UK fact sheets and tool kits are available to download from here: http://prostatecanceruk.org/prostate-information/our-publications/publications/tool-kit