Metastatic Prostate Cancer
When cancer spreads from the prostate to other tissues or organs, it is referred to as metastatic prostate cancer. Prostate cancer occurs when malignant cells form in the prostate tissue. The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system located beneath the bladder. In most cases, prostate cancer spreads to the bones and lymph nodes first.
In 2019, there were more than 170,000 new cases of prostate cancer and nearly 10% of cases will already have metastasized at the time of diagnosis. When cancer spreads to other parts of the body it causes more complications, limits available treatment options, and lowers the long-term survival rate.
Symptoms of Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Symptoms of metastatic prostate cancer depends on where in the body the cancer has spread. Symptoms patients experience in advanced stages of prostate cancer can include swelling in the legs or pelvic area, and numbness in the legs or feet. In most cases, prostate cancer spreads to the bones before other tissues or organs. This can cause additional symptoms such as bone pain, high blood calcium levels, fractures of the bone, or spinal cord compression. Nearby lymph nodes are the other most common place that prostate cancer spreads.
Early-stage signs of prostate cancer can include:
- Frequent urination or weak flow of urination
- Persistent pain in the hips or back
- Anemia related symptoms such as shortness of breath or fatigue
If you have any of the above symptoms and are concerned it might be prostate cancer, contact your doctor for further testing.
Metastatic Prostate Cancer Treatments
If the cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body, local treatments such as surgery and radiation are not as common. The exact treatment option utilized can depend on several factors such as the stage of disease and where in the body the cancer has spread. Treatments for metastatic prostate cancer can include:
- Hormone therapy
- Bisphosphonate therapy
- External radiation therapy
- Clinical trials
Corticosteroids such as prednisone are used for metastatic prostate cancer that has spread to the bone. These drugs can help relieve bone pain and lower PSA levels in men. For prostate cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body, chemotherapy drugs such docetaxel can help relieve symptoms, slow the growth of cancer cells, and improve the overall quality of life in advanced stage patients. Clinical trials with the latest treatments in cancer research are also available to prostate cancer patients of all stages. There are approximately 185 active clinical trials recruiting metastatic prostate cancer patients in the United States.