What is the Gleason Score?

With any type of cancer, there must be some sort of a grading system that helps to enable the physicians to determine the level or stage of the cancer cause and effect examples. By knowing this information, the physician is better able to treat patients and their condition and to give a proper diagnosis, as well as prognosis.

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This score is a tumor grading system that is most commonly used in scoring biopsies that are taken from potential prostate cancer patients. The Gleason score helps ensure that the physicians are aware of the stage of the tumor at that time. This enables the physician to make an accurate judgment call on treatment options and a possible cure for the patient’s prostate cancer.

The whole process of accurately judging the biopsy is a cooperative effort between the urologist and the pathologist. It requires an accurate performance during a biopsy and an accurate interpretation of the biopsy. This score relies on these two factors. To properly determine the Gleason score of a tumor, the pathologist and urologist must be accurate in their duties, or the results will be flawed.

The Scoring Process
This tumor scoring system is based upon microscopic tumor patterns that are assessed by a pathologist. The pathologist must accurately read the slides and determine the score of the tumor. This requires great skill on the pathologist’s part because if they do not know the patterns, the reading will be off.

This scoring system is obviously subjective by nature. In other words, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. This is not the only limitation in this scoring system; there are others. For example, not every pathologist has the same ability or experience judging on the Gleason grade and therefore, the results for the same biopsy read by two different pathologists can be different. Also, the small needle biopsies sometimes do not give an accurate account of the tumor itself.

The Gleason score can be anywhere from two to ten. Several factors are looked at and then added together to get the final sum or score. (Gleason score and Gleason sum are the same; however, Gleason grade and the Gleason score or sum is different.) The score is determined by the primary Gleason grade and the secondary Gleason grade, which is then added together to get the Gleason score.

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