Can Prostate Cancer Spread
Medically Reviewed by: Dr. BautistaUpdated on: November 18, 2019
Like other cancers, prostate cancer can spread if the cancer cells grow out of control. At ITC, we treat all different types of cancer and know that patients often have a lot of questions surrounding their diagnosis.
We often are asked what is prostate cancer? Can prostate cancer spread? How is it diagnosed? And more. At Immunity Therapy Center, we know that each diagnosis is unique and every patient is different which is why we focus on a holistic approach to prostate cancer. And we believe that when patients have the knowledge, theyre more likely to take control of their health.
To give you the knowledge to prepare, lets take a closer look at prostate cancer, what symptoms to look for, and how it can spread.
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Once The Cancer Cells Have Freed Themselves From The Tumor They Travel To Other Areas Of The Body
No man wants to hear his doctor say, Your prostate cancer has spread. Metastatic prostate cancer simply means that the cancer has spread outside of the prostate into other areas of the body. A doctor often will refer to this as the cancer has metastasized or that its metastatic. Even though metastatic prostate cancer is an advanced form of cancer with no cure, it can be treated and controlled. The majority of men who have advanced prostate cancer go on to live a normal life for many years.
When cancer of the prostate has metastasized, it usually will spread to the bones or lymph nodes, but it can also spread to the liver or lungs. When it spreads to other regions of the body, it is still referred to as prostate cancer, since it is the same prostate cancer cells from the original tumor.
How does prostate cancer metastasize?
All types of cancers can metastasize. Whether it is prostate cancer or another type of cancer, cancer cells can sometimes break away from the original tumor. Once the cancer cells have freed themselves from the original tumor, they can travel through the lymphatic system or the bloodstream to other areas of the body. The cells can break through the wall of a blood vessel, attaching themselves to whatever tissue they find. At this point, they can begin to multiply and grow new blood vessels in order to bring nutrients to the new tumor.
Discovering metastatic prostate cancer
Managing metastasized prostate cancer
Why Does Prostate Cancer Happen
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 men of African-Caribbean or African descent, 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.
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A Potential Method To Prevent Prostate Cancer From Spreading In The Future
Recent studies have detected a transcription factor known as STAT3 as a promoter of prostate cancer metastasis. It has been proposed as a potential target to inhibit metastasis.
A study published in 2021 showed for the first time how a STAT3 inhibitor could obstruct the progression of prostate cancer. In other words, it wont allow prostate cancer to spread to the bone .
However, we should note that the latter is the first study performed in animal models. It should be replicated and tested several times in clinical trials before finding an application in humans.
The Top 7 Signs Of Advanced Prostate Cancer
In the early stages, you may not notice any symptoms related to prostate cancer. This is why screenings are important. Symptoms can sometimes be noticed for the first time when the cancer advances.
Advanced prostate cancer, also called metastatic cancer, means the cancer has spread to other areas of your body beyond your prostate gland. The most common areas for prostate cancer to spread are your bladder, rectum, and bones. It can also spread to your lymph nodes, liver, lungs, and other body tissues.
Whether youve just been diagnosed or youre in treatment, its also important to know the signs of advanced cancer. Cancer can behave differently depending on your genetics, so not every person will experience the same symptoms in the same way.
Read on to learn more about the seven top symptoms of advanced prostate cancer and how to spot them.
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Watchful Waiting And Active Surveillance
Watchful waiting is an adequate approach in patients who are at low risk of death from prostate cancer because of their limited life expectancy due to severe comorbidities., Watchful waiting resulted in similar overall survival when compared with radical prostatectomy, but disease-specific survival was better in patients who had undergone surgery. For some patients it turns out to be hard to persist on a watchful waiting policy, and many men drop out and seek active treatment within several years, mostly when PSA elevation is noted.
Active surveillance is a novel and fascinating approach to distinguish between patients who are at higher risk and need active therapy and patients who are at low risk for disease progression., This approach avoids the risks of therapy while allowing early detection of those patients who are prone to progress. In these high-risk individuals, delayed active treatment is offered. Periodic monitoring of the PSA serum level, digital rectal exam, and repeated prostate biopsies are performed in patients who are on active surveillance, and active therapy is started when predefined threshold values are reached. This concept makes it possible to offer curative treatment to individuals who are at high risk for disease progression as indicated by active surveillance parameters.
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What Types Of Testing Should I Expect For Monitoring My Condition
Since metastatic prostate cancer isnt curable, your doctor will most likely set up regular visits to check the cancers location, and to manage any long-term side effects from the cancer or any medication youre taking.
And since treatments for advanced prostate cancer are changing so fast and need to be given in a certain sequence to be the most effective, youll probably have not only a prostate cancer doctor but other specialists taking care of you. Your care team should coordinate closely, say the authors of a major study of such teams published in August 2015 in the journal Annals of Oncology.
Along with regularly testing your prostate-specific antigen levels, your care team may request blood tests that measure such prostate cancer indicators as alkaline phosphatase and lactate dehydrogenase. Magnetic resonance imaging or PET scans of the spine or other bones can also help identify how your cancer responds to treatment.
If youve had radiation, youre at an increased risk for bladder and colorectal cancer and should get screened regularly for these as well.
The tests youll have and how often youll need them should be customized to you. Your care team will consider your overall health, medications that are safe for you to take, other health conditions you might have, and what stage your cancer was when you were diagnosed.
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The Role Of Parathyroid Hormone
Parathyroid hormone is a hormone secreted by the parathyroid gland which plays an important role in bone remodeling. It stimulates bone resorption by osteoclasts indirectly through PTH binding receptors located on osteoblasts. Upon binding of PTH on osteoblasts, the expression of OPG is downregulated whereas the expression of RANKL is upregulated . Signaling to the bone marrow-derived osteoclast precursors, high levels of RANKL consequently stimulate their fusion, differentiation, and activation. PTH causes a net bone loss through an increased resorption process when administered in a continuous fashion, but a net bone gain through an enhanced formation process when administered intermittently. To our knowledge, only a handful of evidence documented the ectopic expression of PTH by the thyroid and other non-parathyroid tumors . Specifically, studies on the ectopic expression of PTH by prostate tumors are limited .
Drugs To Treat Cancer Spread To Bone
If prostate cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it almost always goes to the bones first. These areas of cancer spread can cause pain and weak bones that might break. Medicines that can help strengthen the bones and lower the chance of fracture are bisphosphonates and denosumab. Sometimes, radiation, radiopharmaceuticals, or pain medicines are given for pain control.
Side effects of bone medicines
A serious side effect of bisphosphonates and denosumab is damage to the jaw, also called osteonecrosis of the jaw . Most people will need to get approval from their dentist before starting one of these drugs.
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Changing Role Of Caregivers
Family members and friends may also go through periods of transition. A caregiver plays a very important role in supporting a person diagnosed with cancer, providing physical, emotional, and practical care on a daily or as-needed basis. Many caregivers become focused on providing this support, especially if the treatment period lasts for many months or longer.
However, as treatment is completed, the caregiver’s role often changes. Eventually, the need for caregiving related to the cancer diagnosis will become much less or come to an end. Caregivers can learn more about adjusting to life after caregiving.
Pain In The Back Or Hips
Many times, prostate cancer pain occurs around the lower spinal cord and hips. This a result of the prostate being in close proximity to these regions.
Cancer in the hips will cause bones to become brittle and weak. The result is consistent soreness, especially when bending over or exercising.
Prostate cancer can also put pressure on the spine. The compression of the nerves causes a dull pain that can become stabbing as the cancer grows.
If youve been experiencing severe pain in the back or hips even without engaging in rigorous activities during the day, its best if you get yourself checked. Aside from being one of the most common signs of prostate cancer, severe pain in the back and hips can take a toll on your daily activities, and prevent you from becoming productive during the day. Pain in the back and hips can also adversely affect your mobility, making it very challenging for you to move.
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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.
Looking For More Of An Introduction
If you would like more of an introduction, explore these related items. Please note that these links will take you to other sections on Cancer.Net:
ASCO Answers Fact Sheet:Read a 1-page fact sheet that offers an introduction to prostate cancer. This free fact sheet is available as a PDF, so it is easy to print.
ASCO Answers Guide:Get this free 44-page booklet that helps you better understand the disease and treatment options. The booklet is available as a PDF, so it is easy to print.
Cancer.Net Patient Education Video:View a short video led by an ASCO expert in prostate cancer that provides basic information and areas of research.
Cancer.Net En Español: Read about prostate cancer in Spanish or read a 1-page ASCO Answers Fact Sheet in Spanish. Infórmase sobre cáncer de próstata en español o una hoja informativa de una página, Respuestas sobre el cáncer.
The next section in this guide is Statistics. It helps explain the number of people who are diagnosed with prostate cancer and general survival rates. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.
ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.
Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society’s publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2021, and the ACS website .
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What Are The Signs Of Prostate Cancer
Most early prostate cancers are detected with PSA tests or digital rectal exams before they cause any symptoms. However, more advanced prostate cancers can cause a variety of symptoms including:
- Trouble starting to urinate .
- Urinating much more often than usual.
- The feeling that you can’t release all of your urine.
- Pain with urination or ejaculation.
- Blood in your urine or semen.
- Impotence/erectile dysfunction.
- Numbness in the lower extremities.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
All of these symptoms can be caused by things other than prostate cancer, so experiencing them doesn’t necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. When older men have problems urinating, it is usually caused by a problem called benign prostatic hyperplasia , which is not prostate cancer. If you have any of these symptoms, you need to see your provider for testing.
Receiving Treatment For Prostate Cancer That Has Spread
At Moffitt Cancer Center, the experts within our Urologic Oncology Program treat patients with all stages of prostate cancer, including advanced-stage cancers that have metastasized to other areas of the body. Our multispecialty team collaborates as a tumor board, ensuring each patient receives a treatment plan tailored to his unique needs. For individuals with metastatic prostate cancer, treatment plans aim to alleviate symptoms, slow the rate of cancer growth and shrink tumors to help improve quality of life.
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Outlook Once Cancer Has Spread To The Bones
The research on cancer metastasis is rapidly growing. As researchers better understand the mechanisms of bone metastasis, new drugs and other treatments are being developed. These target particular processes in cells involved in how the cancer cells invade and grow in bones.
The use of nanoparticles to deliver drugs is very encouraging. These tiny particles are able to deliver drugs to the bone with minimal toxicity to the person with cancer.
Rapidly treating bone metastasis can lead to a
How Fast And Where Does Prostate Cancer Spread
Like other cancers, prostate cancer can spread from the site of where it first started to other sites of the body. Once it spreads, the disease may still respond to the treatment, but typically it is now no longer to be cured. Bones, liver, and lungs are the most common sites for prostate cancer metastasis. How do you know that it has spread? And how fast this metastasis?
Since the early detection of the disease is very crucial for the prognosis and outlook of patients , its very important to diagnose the disease as early as possible.
In the U.S, the number of men diagnosed with the disease at later stages decreases drastically due to the implementation of PSA screening test .
The PSA test is also recommended in other countries . However whether this test is necessary for all men is debatable.
For those who eventually dont have prostate cancer in their life, the choice to take the test may put them at high risk of getting over-diagnosis, making anxiety more likely.
Therefore, some experts agree that the screening prostate cancer test is more recommended for those who have some /many risk factors of the disease. For more advice, consult more with your GP!
How prostate cancer is diagnosed?
PSA screening test
IVU or IVP Intravenous urogram
When Metastatic Cancer Can No Longer Be Controlled
If you have been told your cancer can no longer be controlled, you and your loved ones may want to discuss end-of-life care. Whether or not you choose to continue treatment to shrink the cancer or control its growth, you can always receive palliative care to control the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment. Information on coping with and planning for end-of-life care is available in the Advanced Cancer section of this site.
Types Of Imaging Studies
If your doctor suspects your cancer might be spreading, they will likely order more imaging tests. A common imaging workup may include a bone scan and a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis. An MRI might be done as well. Some research centers are also using magnetic MRIs or PET scans to further refine the staging of prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next doctorâs appointment to help you ask the right questions.
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