Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 9: Gleason Grading System

Jackie Gleason, aka Sheriff Buford T. Justice
Day 9: Radiation Therapy

No, this has nothing to do with Jackie Gleason. I just used his pic to get your attention. Your Gleason score is used to help evaluate the prognosis of men with prostate cancer.

If your diagnostic tests and other exams reveal a malignant tumor of your prostate, then your doctor may use the Gleason grading system to help describe the appearance of the cancerous prostate tissue.  In order to do this a pathologist will look at the biopsied tissue under a microscope in order to examine the way the cancerous cells look compared to normal prostate cells.

If the cancerous cells appear to closely resemble normal prostate tissue, they are said to be "well differentiated" and given a Gleason grade 1. This means that the tumor is not fast-growing.

If the cells look fairly irregular and very different from normal prostate cells, then they are described as "poorly differentiated" and assigned a Gleason grade 5.

Grades 2-4 are used for tumors that fall between grades 1 and 5, with higher numbers corresponding to faster-growing tumors.

Because prostate cancer tissue is often made up of areas that have different grades, the pathologist will examine that make up the largest portion of the tissue. Gleason grades are then given to the two most commonly occurring patterns of cells.  By adding these two grades together, the final Gleason score is assigned. Scores on the higher end of the Gleason scale (7-10) usually indicate a more serious prognosis.

You should watch this video (about 9 minutes) to get an explanation from the experts.

 My Gleason score was 7 (right on the hairy edge) and that's why I am now visiting Radiation Oncology every day.  If you practice  early detection like I wrote about earlier, then you might not have to endure the same fate.  If you haven't already, please schedule a PSA and DRE with your doctor.

Well, it's the end of my second week.  Only 33 more treatments to go.  On Tuesday, "What is staging in prostate cancer?"

Cya next week.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Tom: Thanks for your efforts to educate thru your blog. Although the topic is something most of us avoid (for fear and discomfort, I think), your posts have made it all a little less scary by laying out the risk probabilities, the various tests that exist and ultimately, some of the therapies that are available.

    Also, I'm heartened to learn that the VA is providing such a high level of care to you. I've heard so many horror stories about the VA. It is fitting that folks that have served the U.S. thru their military service are offered the best of care for their health needs. Keep up the good work and best wishes for a great outcome to the treatments!