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What Happens If You Have Prostate Cancer

Causes Of Prostate Cancer

Life Expectancy with Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

The causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown. But certain things can increase your risk of developing the condition.

The chances of developing prostate cancer increase as you get older. Most cases develop in men aged 50 or older.

For reasons not yet understood, prostate cancer is more common in black men and less common in Asian men.

Men whose father or brother were affected by prostate cancer are at slightly increased risk themselves.

Recent research also suggests that obesity increases the risk of prostate cancer.

How You Might Feel

When prostate cancer is advanced, it can no longer be cured. But treatment can control it for some time and help to relieve symptoms.

Finding out that your cancer cant be cured is distressing and can be a shock. Its common to feel uncertain and anxious. It’s normal not to be able to think about anything else.

Lots of information and support are available to you, your family and your friends. It can help to find out more about your cancer and the treatments you might have. Many people find that knowing more about their situation can make it easier to cope.

Talk to your doctor or nurse to understand:

  • what your diagnosis means

What Happens If My Cancer Starts To Grow Again

Your first treatment may help keep your cancer under control. But over time, the cancer may change and it may start to grow again.

You will usually stay on your first type of hormone therapy, even if its not working so well. This is because it will still help to keep the amount of testosterone in your body low. But there are other treatments that you can have alongside your usual treatment, to help control the cancer and manage any symptoms. Other treatments include:

Which treatments are suitable for me?

Which treatments are suitable for you will depend on many things, including your general health, how your cancer responds to treatment, and which treatments youve already had. Talk to your doctor or nurse about your own situation, or speak to our Specialist Nurses.

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Does Prostate Cancer Have Any Symptoms

Most men with early prostate cancer dont have any signs or symptoms.

One reason for this is the way the cancer grows. Youll usually only get early symptoms if the cancer grows near the tube you urinate through and presses against it, changing the way you urinate . But because prostate cancer usually starts to grow in a different part of the prostate, early prostate cancer doesnt often press on the urethra and cause symptoms.

If you do notice changes in the way you urinate, this is more likely to be a sign of a very common non-cancerous problem called an enlarged prostate, or another health problem. But its still a good idea to get it checked out. Possible changes include:

  • difficulty starting to urinate or emptying your bladder
  • a weak flow when you urinate
  • a feeling that your bladder hasnt emptied properly
  • dribbling urine after you finish urinating
  • needing to urinate more often than usual, especially at night
  • a sudden need to urinate you may sometimes leak urine before you get to the toilet.

If prostate cancer breaks out of the prostate or spreads to other parts of the body , it can cause other symptoms, including:

  • back pain, hip pain or pelvis pain
  • problems getting or keeping an erection
  • unexplained weight loss.

These symptoms can all be caused by other health problems. But its still a good idea to tell your GP about any symptoms so they can find out whats causing them and make sure you get the right treatment, if you need it.

Urinary Problems After Surgery

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Leaking urine

Most men cant control their bladder properly when their catheter is first removed. This is because surgery can damage the muscles and nerves that control when you urinate.You might just leak a few drops if you exercise, cough or sneeze . Or you might leak more and need to wear absorbent pads, especially in the weeks after your surgery.Leaking urine usually improves with time. Most men start to see an improvement one to six months after surgery. Some men leak urine for a year or more and others never fully recover, but there are things that can help and ways you can manage it.

Difficulty urinating

A few men may find it difficult to urinate after surgery . This can be caused by scarring around the opening of the bladder or the urethra .Some men find they suddenly and painfully cant urinate. This is called acute urine retention and it needs treating quickly to prevent further problems. If this happens, call your doctor or nurse, or go to your nearest accident and emergency department.

Watch Pauls story for one mans experience of managing urinary problems after surgery below.

Sexual problems after surgery

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What Will Happen After Treatment

Youll be glad when treatment is over. But its hard not to worry about cancer coming back. When cancer comes back it is called a recurrence. Even when cancer never comes back, people still worry about it. For years after treatment ends, you will see your cancer doctor. At first, your visits may be every few months. Then, the longer youre cancer-free, the less often the visits are needed.

Be sure to go to all follow-up visits. Your doctors will ask about your symptoms, examine you, and might order blood tests and maybe other tests to see if the cancer has come back.

Having cancer and dealing with treatment can be hard, but it can also be a time to look at your life in new ways. You might be thinking about how to improve your health. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or talk to your doctor to find out what you can do to feel better.

You cant change the fact that you have cancer. What you can change is how you live the rest of your life, making healthy choices and feeling as good as you can.

Options For Dealing With Recurrence

With a persistently increasing PSA, the suspicion for recurrence increases. The most important factor in assessing your long-term outcome is determining the location of the prostate cancer cells producing the PSA. Advanced imaging techniques, such as MRI and PSMA PET/CT, are often helpful in learning where the cancer is located, and in the case of post-radiation recurrence, repeat biopsy may be required.

If a man underwent surgery as an initial treatment, revisiting the post-operative pathology report may help to identify what contributed to the recurrence. If there was still cancer present , the cancer was aggressive , or genomic profiling of the tumor showed high-risk features, several options are available:

  • EBRT to the prostate bed with or without the pelvis.
  • EBRT accompanied by hormone therapy. The duration of hormone therapy will depend on the PSA level just prior to radiation and to a lesser extent on the Gleason score and staging of the cancer.
  • Systemic treatment using hormone therapy, other treatments for those at risk for metastatic disease, or a combination.
  • Active surveillance if the remaining cancer appears insignificant. You and your doctor can decide whether to intervene more aggressively and, if so, when.

If you’re seeking additional or different approaches, you may be eligible to participate in an appropriate clinical trial . You can research this with the help of your doctor.

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Genetic And Genomic Tests For Localized Prostate Cancer

Genetic testing

A man’s inherited genes predict his prostate cancer risk. For a long time, we have known that there is a family risk in prostate cancer. If your father or brother has prostate cancer, or your mother or sister has breast or ovarian cancer, you are at higher risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. To partially quantify that genetic risk, a germline test can be performed before a biopsy. This test of DNA from healthy cells can determine whether you have inherited genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, known to increase prostate cancer risk. If the test shows you’re low risk, you may be able to avoid a biopsy even if you have a slightly elevated PSA, while still being actively monitored for prostate cancer.

Genomic testing

If already diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may undergo another type of test for assessing your genetic risk. A genomic test of tissue from your biopsy or prostatectomy can look for somatic mutations, alterations in the DNA of the cancer cells themselves. Genomic tests measure expression of various genes that relate to how aggressive a cancer is likely to be. They indicate how rapidly cancer cells are growing and how genetically abnormal they are relative to normal cells.

Who Is More Likely To Develop Prostate Cancer

Understanding Prostate Cancer

Anyone who has a prostate can develop prostate cancer. But certain factors can make you more likely to develop it:

  • Age. Your chance of developing prostate cancer increases as you get older. Prostate cancer is rare in people under age 50.
  • Family health history. Your risk of prostate cancer is higher if you have a parent, sibling, or child who has or has had prostate cancer.
  • Race. African Americans are more likely to get prostate cancer. They’re also more likely to:
  • Get prostate cancer at a younger age.
  • Have more serious prostate cancer.
  • Die from prostate cancer.

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Genetic Testing For Prostate Cancer

You may hear a lot about genetics or genomics. Both terms are related to genes and cell DNA, but they are different. These tests are being used to learn more about the DNA of cancer cells, and link DNA mutations with treatments. In the future, genetic testing may be the first step doctors take when diagnosing prostate cancer.

What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

If you have prostate cancer, you may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • Why did I get prostate cancer?
  • What is my Gleason score? What is my Grade Group? What do these numbers mean for me?
  • Has the cancer spread outside of the prostate gland?
  • What is the best treatment for the stage of prostate cancer I have?
  • If I choose active surveillance, what can I expect? What signs of cancer should I look out for?
  • What are the treatment risks and side effects?
  • Is my family at risk for developing prostate cancer? If so, should we get genetic tests?
  • Am I at risk for other types of cancer?
  • What type of follow-up care do I need after treatment?
  • Should I look out for signs of complications?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Prostate cancer is a common cancer that affects males. Most prostate cancers grow slowly and remain in the prostate gland. For a small number, the disease can be aggressive and spread quickly to other parts of the body. Men with slow-growing prostate cancers may choose active surveillance. With this approach, you can postpone, and sometimes completely forego, treatments. Your healthcare provider can discuss the best treatment option for you based on your Gleason score and Group Grade.

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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.

How Long Does Urinary Incontinence After Prostate Surgery Last

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Its impossible to say exactly how long it lasts. The chances of you having urinary problems may be influenced by your age, weight and the physical characteristics of your urethra .

However, a majority of men are eventually continent after a radical prostatectomy. In many cases, men are able to go safely without any kind of incontinence product after about three months. This is especially true of men who are healthy overall and fall into the age range of 40 to 60 years. If you are having persistent problems, its important to know that there are ways to treat urinary incontinence after prostate surgery.

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What Is The Prostates Role In Urination

When urine is emptied into the bladder from the kidneys, its kept inside the body by a couple of valves that stay closed until your body tells them to open when you urinate.

If youve had your prostate completely removed, youve had a surgery called radical prostatectomy. Along with the prostate gland, the surgeon has to remove one of the valves outside the prostate that open and close to let urine out or keep it in. Usually having one working valve is enough, but there might also be also be some effect on the nerves and muscles in the area from the surgery that allows urine to leak. Approximately 6% to 8% of men whove had surgery to remove their prostates will develop urinary incontinence.

Find Support After A Diagnosis

The period of time right after a positive diagnosis of prostate cancer can be very lonely. You may feel hopeless, anxious, apprehensive, and even alienated from your friends and family. But youre not alone. Millions of men have experienced and continue to live with prostate cancer around the world.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer

Most prostate cancers are found early, through screening. Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. More advanced prostate cancers can sometimes cause symptoms, such as:

  • Problems urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night
  • Trouble getting an erection
  • Pain in the hips, back , chest , or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord

Most of these problems are more likely to be caused by something other than prostate cancer. For example, trouble urinating is much more often caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia , a non-cancerous growth of the prostate. Still, its important to tell your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed. Some men might need more tests to check for prostate cancer.

How Does The Doctor Know I Have Prostate Cancer

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Prostate cancer tends to grow slowly over many years. Most men with early prostate cancer dont have changes that they notice. Signs of prostate cancer most often show up later, as the cancer grows.

Some signs of prostate cancer are trouble peeing, blood in the pee , trouble getting an erection, and pain in the back, hips, ribs, or other bones.

If signs are pointing to prostate cancer, tests will be done. Most men will not need all of them, but here are some of the tests you may need:

PSA blood test: PSA is a protein thats made by the prostate gland and can be found in the blood. Prostate cancer can make PSA levels go up. Blood tests will be done to see what your PSA level is and how it changes over time.

Transrectal ultrasound : For this test, a small wand is put into your rectum. It gives off sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off the prostate gland. The echoes are made into a picture on a computer screen.

MRI: This test uses radio waves and strong magnets to make detailed pictures of the body. MRI scans can be used to look at the prostate and can show if the cancer has spread outside the prostate to nearby organs.

Prostate biopsy: For a prostate biopsy, the doctor uses a long, hollow needle to take out small pieces of the prostate where the cancer might be. This is often done while using TRUS or MRI to look at the prostate. The prostate pieces are then checked for cancer cells. Ask the doctor what kind of biopsy you need and how its done.

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Living With Prostate Cancer

As prostate cancer usually progresses very slowly, you can live for decades without symptoms or needing treatment.

Nevertheless, it can affect your life. As well as the possible side effects of treatment, a diagnosis of prostate cancer can understandably make you feel anxious or depressed.

You may find it beneficial to talk about the condition with your family, friends, a GP and other people with prostate cancer.

Financial support is also available if prostate cancer reduces your ability to work.

Who Is At Risk For Prostate Cancer

Certain men are at higher risk than others for prostate cancer, which may affect when they should start being screened. The risk increases with age, particularly after age 50. Some risk factors include:

  • African American men are twice as likely as white men to develop the disease.
  • Having a family history a father or a brother diagnosed with prostate cancer, particularly if it is at a relatively early age increases the risk.
  • Having a family history of breast and ovarian cancer may also be associated with an inherited risk of developing prostate cancer
  • High-fat diet and/or obesity

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Should I Make Any Lifestyle Changes Including In My Diet Or Physical Activity

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and staying physically active, can help your overall health. These lifestyle changes can also have a positive effect for men with bone metastases, Tagawa says. Both diet and exercise, he says, are things that are under a mans direct control.

A healthy lifestyle can help you better manage side effects from treatment as well. Try setting small but realistic goals for yourself when it comes to eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise.

While no single food is likely to have a benefit for prostate cancer, smart food choices may help you feel better day to day. Start by cutting out foods high in sugar, saturated fat, and added flavorings and preservatives.

If youre not sure which healthy foods to choose, ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian. This specialist can help you develop a meal plan that includes foods that offer the best chance of slowing the cancers growth and keeping you as healthy as possible.

As an oncologist, Tagawa says he concentrates on treating the cancer itself, but hes aware that many of the men he sees with advanced prostate cancer are older and more likely than younger men to have health problems that can benefit from diet and exercise.

And if youre on hormone therapy, talk to your doctor about investing in some weights or elastic resistance bands to support your bone strength too.

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