Managing Symptoms Of Advanced Prostate Cancer
Symptoms can often be improved by treating the cancer, but there are other ways to control symptoms. Tell your doctor or specialist nurse if you have new symptoms or symptoms get worse.
You may see a doctor or nurse who specialises in pain and symptom control. They are sometimes called palliative care specialists.
Some people find complementary therapies such as relaxation, gentle massage, or aromatherapy help you feel better and more in control.
Why Is This Relevant
It matters because chronic prostatitis can also cause a set of symptoms and painful defecation is one of them. Some men with prostatitis also have irritable bowel syndrome.
While prostate size itself is not the common factor for problems with bowel movements, in some cases, it can happen.
Besides chronic or acute prostatitis, other BPH-related complications can also affect bowel movements. One of those complications is chronic urinary retention. Although rare, this complication can lead to large bowel obstruction.
You see, a common symptom of enlarged prostate is the inability to empty the bladder completely. When left untreated, this symptom leads to urinary retention.
In turn, urinary retention may lead to compression of the sigmoid colon against the sacrum . As a result, large bowel obstruction may occur. Considered a medical emergency, large bowel obstruction is a blockage that prevents the passing of food and liquid.
In other words, certain complications of BPH may impair bowel movements and lead to a medical emergency.
Besides the abovementioned complications, its also useful to mention that prostate enlargement can contribute to constipation. An enlarged prostate can form too much pressure on the rectum, making it difficult to defecate.
In addition to BPH, other prostate problems can act on the bowels too. A good example is prostate cancer or tumor, which may cause disruptions such as bowel incontinence or fecal incontinence.
Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer Spread To The Bones
The most common place for prostate cancer to spread to is the bones. This can include the:
The most common symptom if cancer has spread to the bone is bone pain. It is usually there most of the time and can wake you up at night. The pain can be a dull ache or stabbing pain.
Your bones might also become weaker and more likely to break .
When prostate cancer spreads to the spine, it can put pressure on the spinal cord and cause spinal cord compression. This stops the nerves from being able to work properly. Back pain is usually the first symptom of spinal cord compression.
Spinal cord compression is an emergency. You should contact your treatment team immediately if you are worried you might have spinal cord compression.
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Treatment For Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Treatment for metastatic prostate cancer is based on many things. These include your age and overall health, the location of the cancer, and whether you had treatment before. Options may include hormone therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. These treatments may be combined. Your doctor may suggest a clinical trial.
Your doctor will talk with you about your options and then make a treatment plan. Some people choose to focus on treating their symptoms instead of the cancer .
Some people use complementary therapies along with medical treatment. Therapies like acupuncture or massage may help you cope with the symptoms and stress of cancer. Talk with your doctor about any of these options you would like to try.
What Does Cancer Feel Like
Cancer remains a difficult disease to diagnose because it is capable of causing so many symptoms. The signs depend on the size and position of the cancer and the extent that it is affecting the tissues or organs. If the cancer metastasizes , its symptoms change and can appear in every region where it has spread. Therefore, knowing the answer to “What does cancer feel like” is better, as the moment you start to have such feelings, you can contact your doctor for early check and diagnosis.
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Radiotherapy To The Prostate
Some men who have just been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer may be offered external beam radiotherapy as part of their first treatment. This is where high-energy X-ray beams are directed at the prostate from outside the body. The X-ray beams damage the cancer cells and stop them from dividing and growing. Read more about radiotherapy for advanced prostate cancer.
Radiotherapy to the prostate isnt suitable for all men with advanced prostate cancer. If it isnt suitable for you, you might be offered a type of radiotherapy to help manage symptoms instead.
What Tests Will I Have
You may have tests to find out how far the cancer has spread. If you are generally not very well it may not be necessary to do extra tests. Your doctor will still be able to recommend treatment. Some of these tests can also be used to check how you are responding to treatment.
You may have some or all of the following tests:
PSA blood test
Prostate specific antigen is a protein that can rise due to disease in your prostate gland. A sample is taken from your blood and measured. A PSA test can also show how well your cancer is responding to treatment.
A biopsy is where a sample of your prostate tissue is taken and examined under a microscope. It isnt common to have a biopsy with metastatic prostate cancer, but if this is your first prostate cancer diagnosis it may be necessary. Treatment can still start without a biopsy.
Metastatic prostate cancer often spreads to the bones. Bone scans can find cancer spots before they show up on an ordinary X-ray. For this test, a tiny amount of radioactive liquid is put into a vein, usually in your arm. After the injection you will have to wait up to 3 hours. A scan is then taken of all the bones in your body. Abnormal bone takes up more radioactive liquid than normal bone. These areas will show up on the scan and are known as ‘hot spots’. The scan can also show bone changes like arthritis.
Read more about cancer tests.
These tests will help your doctor to decide on the best treatment for you.
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Prognosis For Prostate Cancer
It is not possible for a doctor to predict the exact course of a disease, as it will depend on each person’s individual circumstances. However, your doctor may give you a prognosis, the likely outcome of the disease, based on the type of prostate cancer you have, the test results, the rate of tumour growth, as well as your age, fitness and medical history.
Prostate cancer often grows slowly and even more aggressive types tend to grow more slowly than other types of cancer. If diagnosed early, prostate cancer has one of the highest five year survival rates.
What Are Stage 4 Prostate Cancer Treatments
After prostate cancer has spread to other parts of your body and reached the final stage it is often incurable. Some treatments may be able to shrink tumors or slow the cancers spread.
Hormone blocking therapy
Prostate cancer needs the male hormone testosterone to grow. Blocking or preventing your body from making testosterone can potentially slow the cancers spread or even shrink tumors. Testosterone can be blocked with many different types of medications or surgery to remove your testicles.
In late-stage prostate cancer, hormone therapy is usually used alone but can also be combined with other treatments.
Radiation therapy may be recommended in stage 4 prostate cancer for men with very large tumors or cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes and other areas. It is often combined with hormone therapy or used after surgery to kill off any remaining cancer cells.
Chemotherapy might be recommended for people with stage 4 prostate cancer in combination with hormone therapy or other treatments. It can help relieve some of your prostate cancer symptoms and potentially prolong your life expectancy.
Pain relief and supportive care
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When To Seek Medical Care
A person may have urinary symptoms unrelated to prostatitis that are caused by bladder problems, UTIs, or benign prostatic hyperplasia. Symptoms of prostatitis also can signal more serious conditions, including prostate cancer.
Men with symptoms of prostatitis should see a health care provider.
Men with the following symptoms should seek immediate medical care:
- complete inability to urinate
Where Does Prostate Cancer Spread
The most common place for prostate cancer to spread to is the bones. It can also spread to the:
A large tumour in the prostate gland can spread into or press on areas around the prostate, such as the back passage or urethra. The urethra is the tube which carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
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What Is The Treatment For Advanced Prostate Cancer
No matter where prostate cancer spreads, its still treated as prostate cancer. Its harder to treat when it reaches an advanced stage.
Treatment for advanced prostate cancer involves targeted and systemic therapies. Most men need a combination of treatments and they may have to be adjusted from time to time.
Follow Your Treatment Plan
Standard treatments used to prevent or slow the growth of prostate cancer may also help relieve symptoms such as pain. These include hormonal therapy chemotherapy, which directly attacks the tumor and surgery, according to ACS.
Additionally, there are treatments that can target bone metastases more specifically options include drugs called bisphosphonates, which help strengthen bones and prevent fractures external radiation therapy ablation techniques corticosteroids and pain medications.
Men with advanced prostate cancer should stick closely to their treatment protocol, says Gilligan, because we have abundant evidence that reduce pain.
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Causes Of Advanced Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. It is more common over the age 65. Although it can happen at a younger age it is uncommon under 50. People who have a prostate include men, transwomen and people assigned male at birth. If you are a trans woman and have had genital gender affirming surgery as part of your transition, you still have a prostate. Trans men do not have a prostate. It is important to talk to your GP or nurse if you are worried about prostate cancer or have symptoms.
We have more information about the risk factors of prostate cancer.
Trying New Potential Treatments
You may also want to talk to your doctor about taking part in a clinical trial. These are studies that test treatments to see if theyâre safe and if they work. They might be new drugs or a mix of treatments that haven’t been used together before. You could also be part of the “control” group and not get the new treatment at all. Clinical trials offer you early access to brand new treatments, but itâs also important to remember that they may not work. Youâll want to talk with your doctor to make sure you understand the pros and cons of a research study before you join one. To find clinical trials, ask your doctor or search the National Institutes of Health database at www.clinicaltrials.gov.
At some point, your treatment may stop working. If that happens, you can still get care to ease symptoms like nausea, pain, and tiredness. Even though it may not cure your cancer, the goal is to make you feel better.
American Cancer Society: “Hormone therapy for prostate cancer,” “Preventing and treating prostate cancer spread to bones,” “Vaccine treatment for prostate cancer,” “What is metastatic cancer?” “When Cancer Doesn’t Go Away,” âUnderstanding Advanced and Metastatic Cancer,â âWhatâs New in Prostate Cancer Research?â
Prostate Cancer UK: âWhat is locally advanced prostate cancer?â
ClinicalTrials.gov: “Learn About Clinical Studies.”
National Cancer Institute: “Cancer Vaccines.”
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When To Call A Doctor
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions about calling when you have problems, new symptoms, or symptoms that get worse.
- Are completely unable to urinate.
- Have painful urination and a fever, chills, or body aches.
- Dull, aching pain in your lower back, pelvis, or hips.
- Swollen in the groin area. These nodes are usually not tender.
Experimental Treatments For Advanced Prostate Cancer
Researchers are currently testing many new approaches and treatments for prostate cancer, including new medications. These include the following:
Immune checkpoint inhibitors
The immune system uses âcheckpointsâ to stop it from attacking the bodyâs healthy cells. These checkpoints are proteins on immune cells.
Cancer cells often use these checkpoints to keep the immune system from attacking them.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that can these checkpoints on cancer cells. Inhibiting these checkpoints can allow a personâs immune system to attack the cancer cells.
Chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy
This treatment involves taking immune cells from the personâs blood. A scientist then alters these cells in a lab to have receptors called chimeric antigen receptors on their surface.
These receptors help the cells attach to proteins on the surface of prostate cells. A scientist then multiplies these altered T cells in a lab before putting them back into the personâs blood.
Scientists hope these T cells can then find prostate cancer cells and launch a targeted immune attack.
However, this treatment is complicated and may have some serious side effects. This means it is currently only available as part of clinical trials.
Targeted drug therapies
Targeted drug therapies can act on specific parts of cancer cells and the environments surrounding them.
Two possible targeted therapy treatments are:
Treating prostate cancer that has spread to the bones
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Eating Problems And Weight Loss
Some men with advanced prostate cancer have problems eating, or dont feel very hungry. You might feel or be sick. These problems may be caused by your cancer or by your treatments. Being worried about things can also affect your appetite.
Problems eating or loss of appetite can lead to weight loss and can make you feel very tired and weak. Advanced prostate cancer can also cause weight loss by changing the way your body uses energy.
What can help?
If you feel sick because of your treatment, your doctor can give you anti-sickness drugs. Steroids can also increase your appetite and are sometimes given along with other treatments.
Try to eat small amounts often. If youre struggling to eat because of nausea , try to avoid strong smelling foods. Cold foods tend to smell less, or it may help if someone cooks for you. Try to eat when you feel less sick, even if its not your usual mealtime. Fatty and fried foods can make sickness worse. Drink plenty of water, but drink slowly and try not to drink too much before you eat.
Tell your doctor if you lose weight. They can refer you to a dietitian who can provide advice about high calorie foods and any supplements that might help. It can be upsetting for your family to see you losing weight, and they may also need support. Macmillan Cancer Support and provide support and information about eating problems in advanced cancer.
Back Pain From Cancer
Rarely, it may be the first manifestation of cancer, says a paper in the Journal of General Internal Medicine .
The study authors point out that out of 1,975 walk-in patients at a clinic, only 13 were found to have cancer as a cause of their back pain.
Certain findings correlate to this, but these findings certainly dont automatically mean cancer:
At least 50 years of age
Previous history of cancer
Pain lasting longer than a month
No improvement with conservative therapy
Whats scary is that the paper says that metastatic cancer, when causing back pain, may not always cause other symptoms.
When cancer causes back pain, its more frequently in the lower region. Thus, pain specifically in the middle back, from this disease, would be even rarer.
Quite simply, pain in the back, be it low, middle or upper, has MANY causes including inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disease , fibromyalgia, aortic disease, imminent heart attack, premenstrual syndrome, benign ovarian cysts and overdoing it in a yoga class.
Dr. Psallidas is the main author of many peer-reviewed publications and book chapters in pleural disease and lung cancer.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. Shes also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.
Top image: Freepik.com/ shayne_ch13
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Symptoms Of Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Metastatic prostate cancer means that a cancer that began in the prostate gland has spread to another part of the body. It is also called advanced prostate cancer.
If your prostate cancer has spread you might:
- feel generally unwell
- have weight loss for no known reason
You might have specific symptoms depending on where the cancer has spread to. These symptoms can also be caused by other medical conditions so might not be a sign that the cancer has spread.
Advanced Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Men with advanced prostate cancer may experience additional symptoms. Thats because the cancer has spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, such as the bones or lymph nodes.
Signs of metastatic prostate cancer may include:
- Swelling in legs or pelvic area
- Numbness or pain in the hips, legs or feet
- Bone pain that persists or leads to fractures
A wide range of treatment options are available for managing advanced cancer. These treatments kill cancer cells, but they may also help patients manage pain.
Prostate cancer treatment: The care you need is one call away
Your multidisciplinary team will work with you to develop a personalized plan to treat your prostate cancer in a way that fits your individual needs and goals.
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