Advanced Prostate Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Overview

Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the prostate, a part of the male reproduction system. Advanced prostate cancer occurs when the tumor that is originally confined in the prostate gland spread to other parts of the body. Commonly, it spreads to the lymph nodes in the pelvis and bones. Advanced prostate cancer is harder to treat and can’t be cured. But, right now, there are medical methods available to control its spreading speed, prolong the patient’s life and reduce its symptoms. Advanced prostate cancer is also called metastatic prostate cancer.

In the United States, as many as 165,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year. Approximately, around 13% to 20% of American men have prostate cancer during their lifetime. But fortunately, advanced prostate cancer only accounts for a very small fraction.

Causes

The exact cause of prostate cancer is still unclear. Experts have found that factors like age, family history, and race may increase the possibility for a man to get prostate cancer. According to statistics, about 80% of men with prostate cancer are diagnosed after the age of 65. Men with a family history of prostate cancer often have a higher risk of developing the condition than others. Also, African-Americans are more likely to develop the disease than white men in America.

As for advanced prostate cancer, it happens when cells in the prostate gland mutate and develop in an abnormal way. With these abnormal cells multiplying in an uncontrolled manner, cancer cells can spread to other organs at an aggressive speed. Usually, prostate cancer can be diagnosed as stage I, stage II, stage III and stage IV. Here, we are talking about stage IV prostate cancer.

To be more specific, stage IV prostate cancer can be divided into two main types:

  • Stage IV D1

In stage IV D1, prostate cancer has spread to the pelvis, lymph nodes, or surrounding organs. However, the cancer has not spread further.

  • Stage IV D2

In stage IV D2, prostate cancer has spread to more distant organs, such as the spine, pelvis, ribs, or other bones.

Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of advanced prostate cancer may include the following:

  • Pain in the back and pelvis
  • Blood in urine
  • Burning while urinating
  • Trouble emptying the bladder
  • Sudden urge to urinate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

It is worth mentioning that in often cases, men with advanced prostate cancer also experience emotional side effects. They may appear to be very calm, or they may have a worse-than-before temper. These sudden emotional changes could be the signs of depression.

In this situation, medical help should be sought. The doctor can give very good advice on how to adjust to the new situation and may recommend a therapist.

Advanced prostate cancer usually shows specific symptoms. So, if you have the above-described symptoms, you should see your doctor right away in order to get a definite diagnosis.

Diagnosis

To confirm whether you have prostate cancer, the doctor may use a series of tests, including:

If the doctor does identify cancer cells, he or she will use a Gleason score to decide the staging of the cancer. Under the condition when the cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body, you are diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.

Treatment

Right now, patients with advanced prostate cancer can be treated with hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Also, there may be other clinical trials available too for people with the condition to have a try.

  • Hormone therapy

As a matter of fact, it is male hormones, testosterone, that support the growth of prostate cancer. Accordingly, hormone therapy aims at reducing the amount of testosterone in the body.

In the past, a surgery called orchiectomy is often taken to treat the cancer. In this procedure, the doctor will remove both of the testicles, which produce the male hormone testosterone. But since this surgery is irreversible, now nearly all men with advanced prostate cancer have turned to use drug therapy.

By taking medications such as Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs, people with advanced prostate cancer can effectively reduce their symptoms. But it is equally worth noting that the side effects of these medications are also strong.

  • Chemotherapy

If hormone therapy no longer works, the doctor will use chemotherapy to ease the symptoms. Along with the therapy, people with the condition also need to take prescribed medications. As a result, the patient is likely to experience hair loss, weight loss, bone marrow suppression and so on.

  • Immunotherapy

In this therapy, immunologic agents will be used to treat the patient. By stimulating the patient’s immune system, cancer cells can be identified and targeted.

  • Clinical Trials

Researches on treating advanced prostate cancer are still going on. So, there may be clinical trials available too. After taking the side effects of new approaches into consideration, the patient with advanced prostate cancer may also try some clinical trials.


Keywords: advanced prostate cancer, metastatic prostate cancer.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.