Stage 3 Prostate Cancer

Stage 3 is a fairly advanced stage of prostate cancer

Stage 3 prostate cancer is a fairly advanced stage of prostate cancer in which cancer has been detected beyond the confines of the prostate itself.

The "stage" of prostate cancer refers to how advanced or spread throughout the body it is.

Two main systems describe prostate cancer stages. The "TNM" system is the most commonly used, but the Jewett system is used by some healthcare providers. 

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What Is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer develops in the prostate—a small gland that makes seminal fluid. It is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Prostate cancer usually grows over time and, in the beginning, usually stays within the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. While some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.

Prostate cancer that is caught early has a better chance of successful treatment.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer that is more advanced may cause signs and symptoms such as:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Decreased force in the stream of urine
  • Blood in the semen
  • Discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Bone pain
  • Erectile dysfunction

Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

Factors that can increase your risk of prostate cancer include the following.

  • Older age: Your risk of prostate cancer increases as you age.
  • Race: Black men have a greater risk of prostate cancer than do men of other races. In black men, prostate cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced. It's not clear why this is.
  • Family history of prostate or breast cancer: If men in your family have had prostate cancer, your risk may be increased. Also, if you have a family history of genes that increase the risk of breast cancer or a very strong family history of breast cancer, your risk of prostate cancer may be higher.
  • Obesity: Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be more likely to have advanced disease that's more difficult to treat.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. You can talk about the possibility of prostate cancer screening, if necessary.

What Does Your TNM Prostate Cancer Stage Mean?

The TNM system for describing prostate cancer uses the letters “T,” “N,” and “M,” which stand for “tumor,” “nodes,” and “metastasis.”

Specifically, stage 3 prostate cancer has extended through the capsule that surrounds the prostate but has not spread to distant sites in the body.

There are two sub-stages of stage 3 prostate cancer.

  • T3a: The tumor has only gone through the capsule without invading the seminal vesicles.
  • T3b: The tumor has invaded the seminal vesicles.
3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Amiya Y, Yamada Y, Sugiura M. Treatment of locally advanced prostate cancer (Stage T3)Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2017;47(3):257-261. doi:10.1093/jjco/hyw186

  2. Cuzick J, Thorat MA, Andriole G. Prevention and early detection of prostate cancerLancet Oncol. 2014;15(11):e484–e492. doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(14)70211-6

  3. Hamilton W, Sharp D. Symptomatic diagnosis of prostate cancer in primary care: a structured reviewBr J Gen Pract. 2004;54(505):617–621.

Additional Reading
  • Kumar V, Abbas A, Fausto N. Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease 7th Edition. 2004.
  • Mayo Clinic, Prostate Cancer

By Matthew Schmitz, MD
Matthew Schmitz, MD, is a professional radiologist who has worked extensively with prostate cancer patients and their families.