September 23rd, 2014
When detected early, prostate cancer is usually confined to the prostate gland itself. Treatment can then be targeted on the prostate without the need to explore other organs. However, when prostate cancer is not detected in time, it can invade other organs, which can complicate treatment. Thus highlights the importance of early screenings so that prostate cancer can be detected early before it spreads (also known as metastasis).
It is important to note that not all tumors are cancerous. A benign tumor is one that cannot invade other tissues. As such, they are rarely life threatening. However, some can grow large in size and physically impede the function of other organs. In such cases, it may be required to have the benign tumor removed. Once prostate cancer advances and begins to leave the prostate (metastasis), it usually invades surrounding tissues, glands and lymph nodes. Common sites where prostate cancer spreads to are the bladder (leading to urinary complications), rectum, bone and lymphatic system.
Although not commonly carried out, lymph node biopsies detect spread of prostate cancer to lymph nodes. If cancer cells are present in the lymph nodes, it can indicate that the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, where a subsequent body scan can help reveal where the cancer cells have spread. Even though metastatic prostate cancer cells may be present in other organs, it is still classified as prostate cancer. For example, if prostate cancer moves and invades the tissues of the bladder, it is considered prostate cancer.
The presence of prostate cancer in other organs and tissues can interfere with the organs ability to carry out its normal functions. Cancerous cells can have an abnormally high metabolic rate. As such, when present in other tissues, they may dominate the supply of nutrients to that organ, essentially starving the host organ. This, coupled with structural changes the growing tumor makes, can alter the function of the host organ.
If you or someone you know has questions about prostate cancer and it’s effects on the body, voice your concerns with your primary care doctor or urologist. Understanding how prostate cancer works and knowing effects of prostate cancer on body can be a great way to play an active role in it’s treatment.