What Is Stage 3 Prostate Cancer?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2018
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Stage 3 prostate cancer is one of four stages of the disease. At this stage, it may still be possible to treat the disease, but it is much less likely to be cured than in the previous two stages. Treatment for men with stage 3 prostate cancer can include surgery, radical prostatectomy, hormone therapy, or radiation. In many cases two or more these methods will be combined. By stage 3, the cancer has spread to the outside of the prostate, but not to areas such as key organs, the lymph nodes, or bladder.

Once a patient has entered stage 3 prostate cancer, it will typically spread from the outside layer of the prostate and begin to move to other parts of the body. It is also common at this point for it to spread to the seminal vesicles, which are the glands that make semen. If the spread of the disease is not stopped at this point, it will move on to other organs and body systems, ending chances of successful treatment as the cancer progresses to stage 4.


The type of treatment pursued in stage 3 prostate cancer depends upon the age and general health of the patient. Many doctors will continue to attempt to treat the condition if the patient is younger and otherwise in good health. Older patients may have other conditions which make treatment for the cancer too risky. In this case, the doctor may decide not to treat the cancer at all. The patient may also be observed for improvements in general health that could eventually decrease the risk of procedures such as surgery and radiation.

A rating system known as a Gleason grade can also help to determine the severity of prostate cancer. An array of questions about the patient’s condition must be answered in order to determine a numerical score. The cancer is low grade if the score is from two to four. It is intermediate if the score is five to seven and high-grade when the rating is eight to ten. Though this system can help to guide treatment decisions, it typically will not help to determine the stage of the cancer — stage 3 prostate cancer can have a Gleason score of anything from two to ten.

Prostate cancer tends to affect men over the age of 40. It is the third most fatal type of cancer among all men. In men over the age of 75 it is the most common cause of death from cancer. Genetics, race, age, and diet can all be risk factors for the disease. Men who have worked in professions with certain chemicals, such as farmers, painters, and workers in tire plants, are also at a higher risk.



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