What is Advanced Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is considered “advanced” when it has spread beyond the prostate gland. The cancerous cells may spread to adjacent tissues, bones, lymph nodes, or to other parts of the body. If the cancer has spread to the seminal vesicles next to the prostate, it is referred to as “locally advanced.” In most cases, advanced prostate cancer refers to metastatic cancer and hormone-resistant cancer. When prostate cancer spreads beyond adjacent tissues, it is called metastatic prostate cancer. When the cancer continues to grow or spread after using a hormonal therapy, it is known as hormone resistant or castrate resistant prostate cancer. These patients require more aggressive treatment.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
The symptoms of advanced prostate cancer depend upon the size of the tumors and where the cancer has spread. Prostate cancer often metastasizes to bone, and as it grows, you may feel bone pain. If, for example, you have cancerous growth in your pelvic bones, you may have hip pain or low back pain. You may feel tired and weak or may lose weight. Since the cancer cells use additional energy you may need to add calories to your diet to maintain a healthy weight.
Metastatic prostate cancer can spread to lymph nodes outside of the pelvis, bones, lungs, liver, brain, and other organs. Most people do not have metastatic cancer when they are diagnosed, but in some cases, the cancer has already spread beyond the prostate gland. In other cases, metastatic prostate cancer may occur years after the initial treatment.
When you are treated for prostate cancer, your doctor evaluates the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. This is monitored throughout therapy and throughout your life. If you are treated with hormone therapy and your PSA continues to rise or if there are other signs that the cancer is growing, then you have castrate-resistant prostate cancer. Prostate cancer initially responds to hormone treatments in most cases, but after some time the cancerous cells adapt and learn to grow even without testosterone. Some men have castrate-resistant prostate cancer that is also metastatic. There are a number of new treatments available for these men.
Advanced prostate cancer cannot be cured, but treatments are available to slow the growth of the cancer and control the symptoms that occur as the cancer spreads. You can extend you life and live without symptoms for a variable period of time, depending upon your response to treatment. Treatments include hormone therapy, immunotherapy, bone targeted therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
A urologist can diagnose and treat advanced prostate cancer. Call today for a consultation to discuss your prostate cancer and potential treatment options.