There are four stages of prostate cancer, stage I through stage IV. Stage I cancer, the earliest stage, is too small to be felt during a rectal exam and causes no symptoms. In fact, it is only discovered by accident, such as when a physician is performing surgery for another reason, usually an enlarged prostate. A sub-stage of this cancer called T1c may be identified during a needle biopsy that is performed because of elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). This stage tumor has not spread outside the prostate.
- Stage II tumors are also confined to the prostate, but involve more tissue within the gland. These tumors are large enough to be felt during a rectal exam, but may also be found through a biopsy performed because of high levels of PSA.
- Stage III cancers have spread beyond the prostate to nearby tissues. Patients may be experiencing symptoms such as problems with urination.
- Stage IV tumors have spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body—commonly the bones. The patient may be experiencing problems with urination, fatigue and weight loss.