Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting men, with 1 in 9 men diagnosed with it during their lifetime. Despite its high occurrence, when caught early, prostate cancer often can be treated successfully. Most prostate cancers are a type called adenocarcinomas, which are very slow growing—so much so that aggressive treatment of this type of cancer may be unnecessary.
However, that’s not true in all cases. Some prostate cancers, while rarer, grow rapidly and can metastasize or spread to bones, including the hip, spine, pelvis and other organs. The more the cancer spreads, the more challenging it is to treat, and is considered advanced prostate cancer.
Even if prostate cancer travels to your bones, it is not considered bone cancer. Rather, it is still considered prostate cancer because that was the original location of the disease development.
Signs of Prostate Cancer
Early on, you may notice few signs of prostate cancer. That’s because even if a tumor grows within the organ, the prostate doesn’t push against anything to create pain, so the cancer may be difficult to detect.
As the disease advances, you may notice difficulty urinating, bloody urine or semen, swelling in the legs or pelvic area, erectile dysfunction or painful ejaculation.
When prostate cancer cells have entered the bloodstream and traveled to the bone, you may notice bone pain, weak bones (and increased risk for fractures), spinal cord compression, stiffness, or pain in the hip, thighs or back. You also may have higher levels of calcium in the blood, which occurs as cancer cells replace normal bones. This imbalance can result in vomiting, dehydration and confusion.
Treating Prostate Cancer
Early prostate cancer may be treated using a variety of methods including surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or chemotherapy. It also may be monitored for any growth and change.
Although no cure currently exists for advanced and metastasized prostate cancer, treatment focuses on keeping the cancer from growing, reducing complications from the growth and prolonging life.
Your doctor may suggest hormone therapy, chemotherapy, vaccines or immunotherapy, radiation, ablation to destroy tumors, or drugs to reduce complications that affect the bones, such as spinal cord compression or bone fractures.
Outlook for Advanced Prostate Cancer
Even though a cure for advanced prostate cancer doesn’t exist today, significant research regarding treatment is constantly occurring as scientists study how combined therapies may improve prognosis, how to identify cancers that are resistant to certain treatments, and how new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) can provide better information about prostate cancer cells.
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Early prostate cancer may be treated using a variety of methods including surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or chemotherapy. Our surgical oncologists may use minimally invasive, video-assisted surgery, which will minimize your pain and recovery time.Learn More