Community Blog

Understanding a Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

By Ketan Shah

Learning that your father has been diagnosed with prostate cancer can cause a range of emotions. You may be worried about what the future could bring, sad at the thought of losing your dad, and confused about what the diagnosis means. One way to deal with the emotions you are feeling is to learn as much as you can about prostate cancer so that you will have a better idea of the care your dad will need and what you can expect during his treatment.

Types of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer begins in a gland called the prostate, which is located below a man’s bladder. The size of the gland changes as men grow older. In a young man, it is generally the size of a walnut, but enlarges as the man gets older. The purpose of the gland is to produce seminal fluid, the fluid that transports semen. Prostate cancer is a condition in which the cells of the prostate gland grow in an out-of-control fashion.

Most prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas, which means that they develop from the cells of the gland. More rare types of prostate cancer include:

  • Transitional cell carcinomas.
  • Small cell carcinomas.
  • Sarcomas.
  • Neuroendocrine tumors.

The Gleason Grading System
When your father was diagnosed, the cancer was probably given a Gleason score. This grading system assigns a grade of one through five to the cancer cells. Lower numbers indicate the cancer cells are more similar to normal cells, while the higher scores indicate the cancer cells are less like healthy cells. Higher grades indicate that the cancer is more aggressive. The pathologist examining the cells assigns two grades, one for the most common pattern of cells and one for the second most common pattern. These two grades are added together to determine the Gleason score, which is a number between two and 10. Again, the higher the score, the more aggressive the cancer. In addition to the overall score, it’s also important to find out if there were any Gleason 5 cells in your dad’s pathology reports as their presence increases his risk for a recurrence of cancer.

Prostate Cancer Treatment
Often prostate cancer grows slowly and stays inside the prostate gland when the cancer begins. In cases where the cancer is slow growing, sometimes it requires no treatment and is actively monitored instead. Other times, slow growing cancers only require minor treatment. However, if the cancer is fast-growing or has already spread outside the prostate gland, more aggressive treatment may be required, such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and other forms of treatment.

An elder care provider can help care for your dad after a prostate cancer diagnosis and ease some of the stress and work load for family caregivers. An elder care provider can drive your dad to follow-up appointments. Elder care providers can also remind your dad to take any medications the doctor prescribes and care for him if the cancer should require aggressive treatment.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elder care in Saratoga, CA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers today (408) 259-5930.