One of the biggest reasons why prostate cancer can be so deadly is because it is often not found until it is in a later stage. During the early stages of prostate cancer, there are not many warning signs and symptoms that a person will notice. This is why it is very important to get screened and know the signals of prostate cancer.
Signals of Prostate Cancer and Advanced Treatment
Metastatic or advanced prostate cancer means the cancer is spreading to other areas of the body beyond the prostate. It is important to know the signals of prostate cancer whether you are recently diagnosed or currently in treatment. Remember, cancer behaves differently based on genetic risk factors so not every person is going to have the same symptoms or experience them in the same way.
Urinary or bladder issues
Urinary and bladder issues are very common signs of prostate cancer. This occurs when a tumor grows in size and starts to press on the urethra and your bladder. The bladder is a common place for prostate cancer to spread. Frequent urination, blood in the urine or semen, incontinence, and feeling the need to urinate, but not passing anything are all common among those with prostate cancer.
Losing bowel control
While it is not common, prostate cancer can spread to the bowel. If the cancer spreads to the bowel a person might experience stomach pain, blood in the stool, or constipation.
There are several lymph nodes located in the groin and these are closest to the prostate. It is common for this type of cancer to spread into these lymph nodes and when it does you might experience soreness or pain in this area.
As the cancer spreads and crowds out healthier cells in the body, tumors might start to press in areas such as the spinal cord. This can cause you to experience pain, tingling, or swelling in the feet and legs.
Hip and Back Pain
Prostate cancer often spreads to the bones. Since the hips and back are close to the prostate, these are the areas where you might start to experience pain first. The cancer can cause the bones to become brittle and possibly break easier than they normally would. If the cancer spreads to the bones it can be quite painful and will often require treatment in order to help manage the pain.
Tests for Prostate Cancer
It is important to catch prostate cancer early before it spreads to other areas of the body. However, most often people do not experience any symptoms until the cancer has started to spread. This is why it is important to have a prostate examination done routinely.
If you are experiencing the symptoms or signs of prostate cancer, a biopsy might be recommended. During the biopsy, your doctor will remove a sample of cells that are suspicious and have them tested in a lab.
Later stage prostate cancer treatments can help to slow the growth of the cancer and possibly extend your life, but if the cancer has reached stage 4 it often cannot be cured. Some of the treatment options available include:
This type of therapy will stop the body from producing testosterone. Since prostate cancer cells need testosterone to grow, cutting off the supply may slow the growth or cause the cancer to shrink. There are several forms of hormone therapy including medications that will stop the body from producing testosterone. Surgery is another option and will remove the testicles.
Unfortunately, the cancer cells will often adapt to hormone therapy and then start to grow once again.
Radiation therapy will use high-powered energy beams such as protons and x-rays to kill the cancer cells. A large machine will move around the body and direct these beams of energy to areas where the cancer is located. Radiation therapy is often combined with hormone therapy when cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
In the late stages of prostate cancer surgery is not often used as a form of treatment. However, in some situations, it might be recommended. Most often, surgery is for those men who are having difficulty passing urine and the surgery can alleviate some of this pain. A prostatectomy will remove the prostate and the cancer that has grown near it. If the cancer has not spread, surgery can be the best option to get rid of the cancer.
Supportive or palliative is care is focused on providing relief from symptoms and pain of a serious illness. A specialist will work with you to provide you with support during your ongoing medical care. When this type of care is used with other appropriate treatments, patients with cancer often feel better and will live for longer.
Visit the American Cancer Society for more reading and resources.
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