Jeffrey H. Dover
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Atlanta Auto Accident and Medical Malpractice Attorney
One of the key determinants of your prognosis following a prostate cancer diagnosis is what stage it has reached. The higher the stage, the worse the prognosis generally will be. Correspondingly, if prostate cancer is discovered in its earliest stages of development, the chances of an ideal outcome are relatively high. Staging prostate cancer often requires many diagnostic tests which enable doctors and pathologists to see if the cancer has spread to distant areas of the body.

Five of the most commonly utilized diagnostic tests that help in staging prostate cancer are:

• Radionuclide bone scans
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests
• Pelvic lymphadenectomies
• Computed tomography (CT) scans
• Seminal vesicle biopsies

Radionuclide bone scans are used to check for secondary cancer in the bones. Radioactive material is injected into the bloodstream and then begins to gather in the bones. Using a specialized scanner, any metastases in the bones will appear as bright areas due to the presence of the radioactive substance. MRIs are particularly useful in finding out whether the seminal vesicles or bladder have been affected by the spread of prostate cancer. Using radio waves and magnets, a cross-dimensional image can be created of an area of the body. Metastasis in the form of tumors or growths should be detectable via MRIs.

A pelvic lymphadenectomy is similar to a prostate biopsy in that lymph nodes from the pelvis are removed for microscopic examination by a pathologist. If cancer is found in the nodes, it is increasingly likely that the cancer may have spread further. If it has, another way of checking the rest of the body for metastasis is the CT scan. Using X-rays and computer imaging, a visual of certain areas of the body can be constructed and examined for abnormalities.

A more specialized form of diagnostic testing to stage prostate cancer is a seminal vesicle biopsy. The seminal vesicles are tube-like glands that produce seminal fluid, which is a substance found in semen. To help stage prostate cancer, a surgeon may use a needle to extract fluid from the vesicles, which is then examined for cancerous cells that would signify the spread of the disease.
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