If your main treatment was radical prostatectomy (surgery to remove the prostate and surrounding tissues), a specialist doctor (a pathologist) will examine the prostate gland and tissue that was removed. The extent and appearance of the cancer cells give more information about the risk of return (or recurrence) of the cancer. Should the cancer be confined to the prostate gland, the outlook is better than if it has spread outside the ‘capsule’ of the prostate or into the attached seminal vesicles, which are removed with the prostate.
The pathologist will see whether the cancer extends to the cut edge of the prostate (the surgical margin). If this is so, it is likely that some cancer cells have been left behind. This is called a positive surgical margin. In this case, your doctor may recommend you have some extra treatment within a few months following your operation, such as external beam radiotherapy. The cancer grade or Gleason score gives an idea of how aggressive the cancer is.