Understanding Your Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

Understanding Your Prostate Cancer Diagnosis from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What do you need to know about your prostate cancer diagnosis? This animated video reviews the diagnosis process and provides steps for working with your healthcare team to understand your individual disease.

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See More From Prostate Cancer Care: What You Need to Know

Related Resources:

Tools for Becoming an Educated and Empowered Prostate Cancer Patient

Building a Relationship With Your Prostate Cancer Healthcare Team

You Have a Role in Your Prostate Cancer Care Decision



Hi! I’m Niki, and I’m a prostate cancer nurse practitioner. And this is Anthony, who is living with prostate cancer.  

[Disclaimer on screen: Patient experience depicted in this video is fictional.] 


In this video, we’ll help you understand prostate cancer and how it is diagnosed and staged. 


So, what is prostate cancer exactly? It starts when cells in the prostate gland grow out of control, forming a cancerous tumor.  

It’s the second most common cancer in American men. And while it can be serious, there are options available for prostate cancer care.  


And there are certain risk factors that may make you more likely to develop prostate cancer, such as: 

  • Your age. 
  • Your race and ethnic background. For instance, Black men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men of other races. 
  • Your family history and your genetics.  


That’s right, Anthony. Now that we have a better understanding of what prostate cancer is, let’s move on to how it is diagnosed.  

Your healthcare team will use a variety of tests to better understand your disease. 

For example, A PSA test [PSA: Prostate-Specific Antigen on screen] and a biopsy may be used to confirm a diagnosis. And imaging tests—like an MRI or CT scan—are used to find out if the cancer has spread. 

These test results also help your doctor stage your disease. Staging helps indicate the location of the cancer, whether it has spread beyond the prostate, and its impact on other areas of the body. It may also assist in guiding a patient’s treatment plan.  

When staging prostate cancer, doctors may consider: 

  • The size of the primary tumor and where it is located. 
  • They’ll also factor in if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body. 
  • The patient’s PSA level is also used in staging. This test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen in the blood. 
  • And finally, the cancer’s grade, which is based on the Gleason score. A Gleason score measures how likely the cancer is to spread and whether it is aggressive. 


Thanks for explaining that, Niki. So, what are the stages of prostate cancer?  


Great question!  

  • Prostate cancer stages begin at stage I, which indicates a slower growing disease that is confined to the prostate. 
  • And stage II means the cancer is only in the prostate, but the disease may have an increased chance of growing or spreading.  
  • Stage III prostate cancer indicates that the tumor has spread to areas close to the prostate and may be considered locally advanced.  


And I was diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer, which means it has spread beyond the prostate and is considered advanced prostate cancer.  


That’s right. And because prostate cancer staging is complicated, it’s important to review test results with your doctor to understand your stage and grade. If you don’t understand your diagnosis, make sure to ask questions and request resources to help you.  


Here are some additional steps you can take to feel more confident about understanding your diagnosis: 

  • First, ask about the stage of your prostate cancer and whether it is aggressive. 
  • And confirm that you have had all relevant testing to inform an accurate diagnosis, including genetic testing, if appropriate. 
  • Then, be sure to review the test results together with your team to make sure you understand how they impact your care and treatment options. 
  • Also, ask about your Gleason score and how it impacts your decisions.  


And find out how experienced your physician is in treating your type of prostate cancer and consider seeking a second opinion with a prostate cancer specialist. 


Finally, don’t hesitate to request support resources to help you cope emotionally with your diagnosis.  


Visit powerfulpatients.org/pc to view all the videos in this series and download the guide that accompanies this video to review what we’ve discussed.   


Thanks for joining us!