I am very sorry to hear of your father's diagnosis. You should know that, when caught early, PC is one of the most curable cancers. Even if it is not caught early or even if it has spread outside of the prostate, there are a lot of treatment options to either kill much of the cancer or stop/slow its advance. Keep up your spirits and hope.
First of all don't feel overwhelmed about
all the information that people in this chat room seem to know. I barely knew what the prostate gland did prior to my September 2006 diagnosis. You will learn what you need to know quickly. There are lots of good resources out there. Locating this website (the best that I have found) will be a big help to you.
There are a lot of numbers and information about
PC but I would say that the critical ones to ask your dad about
are his PSA, his Gleason Score (two numbers such as 3+3), and his clinical stage (for example T2a or T2b is a pretty common one.) With these three factors, you can go to something called the Partin Table (find it on the internet) and find the odds of your dad's cancer being contained in the prostate or having escaped further out which may alter your best treatment option. The other critical factor in deciding upon the type of treatment will be your dad's age and health.
I would suggest that you start with some basic research on the internet on the fundamentals of the prostate anatomy, prostate cancer, PSA, Gleason score, stages, and treatment options. I am at work right now and don't have the exact names of the web sites that I used when I was diagnosed last September. If I recall correctly, some of the best were Wikipedia, American Cancer Society, and Prostate Cancer Foundation. There are hundreds of others that are just as good.
Here is some more information on two critical measures of prostate cancer:
PSA: Prostate Specific Antigen. A blood test meauring the level of this antigen which is produced by the prostate gland. A level above 4 normally means that further testing should be done (although that threshold level may be higher than 4 if you are older - I am not sure.) Basically a rising PSA score higher than 4 may indicate that you have cancer. This is frequently the first indication of a problem which then leads you to have a biopsy.
Gleason Score: They do a biopsy on the prostate gland removing several cylindrical cores of prostate tissue with a thin needle. The tissue is examined by a pathologist. If the tissue is cancerous it is assigned a "Gleason" rating of 1 to 5. 1 is the least abnormal and 5 is the most abnormal which means the most aggressive cancer. They add the scores of the two most common cells together to make a Gleason Score. The first number is the one that is the most common pattern and the second number is the one that is the second most common. For this reason a 3+4=7 Gleason is less serious than a 4+3=7 Gleason. The most common Gleason Scores are 6, 7, and 8. Lower scores are usually not detected because there is too little cancer to increase the PSA. Higher scores indicate a more aggressive cancer and are less common due to the prevalence of PSA testing catching cancer earlier.
Treatment options: Most common are surgery, radiation, hormone, chemo (if the cancer is already outside the prostate), and watchful waiting. Other less common treatment options include freezing, high energy, etc. I don't know much about
them. If you decide to pursue one of these, you may be able to find others on this web site who has used that treatment option.
Because of my age (49) I pretty quickly focused in on the surgery. Do not rule that out for your dad. However, at his age, he will likely want to also look closely at radiation and other options. Since I don't know as much about
them, I will let others give you some information on those.
Diagnosed 09/06 at age 49 with PSA 4.6 and Gleason 10 (that is still terrifying.)
Surgery was open radical retropubic 11/08/06 at Johns Hopkins (half way across the country for us.) Surgical pathology was stage T3a with positive margins but negative seminal vesicles, negative lymph nodes, negative on bone scan. Catheter was in for 26 days (not fun) due to blood in urine.