Harvard Perspectives on Prostate Disease

Understanding your prostate pathology report

What it contains, what it means, and why asking questions about it can lead to better care

At least initially, the pathology report is one of the most important factors in the management of your prostate health, especially if you have been diagnosed with cancer. For example, it can provide valuable information about the location and extent of the cancer, thus helping your physician decide whether to recommend active surveillance, hormone treatment, radiation therapy, or surgery.

With that in mind, you might think that preparing and reading a pathology report would be straightforward — but unfortunately the opposite is true. Pathology reports are not prepared uniformly (compare Figures 4 and 5, for example). In fact, they can vary considerably even within a single institution. They may not be labeled thoroughly or contain enough specifics for you and your doctor to make a good treatment decision.

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