Prostate Cancer

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How the Gleason Score Developed and Evolved

Dr. James Brooks Stanford Medicine

The Gleason score was devised in the 1960s by Don Gleason, a pathologist at the Minneapolis Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital. He recognized that prostate cancer cells organize themselves into discrete patterns as they change from normal cells to cancer cells. The higher the score, the most aggressive the cancer. The Gleason score is still considered the ultimate indicator of the potential for prostate cancer to grow and spread.

The lowest Gleason score is 6, which is a low-grade cancer. A medium-grade cancer is a Gleason score of 7 and a high-grade cancer is a Gleason 8, 9 or 10.

The Gleason grading system is not without controversy. For example, doctors often disagree about whether to treat and/or how to treat a low-grade Gleason 6 cancer.

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Dr. James Brooks is a urologic oncologist at Stanford Hospital & Clinics and an associate professor in the School of Medicine. Read More