Where Prostate Cancer Spreads In The Body Affects Survival Time
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE until 4 p.m. on Monday, March 7, 2016
DURHAM, N.C. — Patients with lymph-only metastasis have the longest overall survival, while those with liver involvement fare worst. Lung and bone metastasis fall in the middle.
Smaller studies had given doctors and patients indications that the site of metastasis in prostate cancer affects survival, but prevalence rates in organ sites were small, so it was difficult to provide good guidance, said Susan Halabi, Ph.D., professor of biostatistics at Duke and lead author of the study published online March 7 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
With the large numbers we analyzed in our study, we were able to compare all of these different sites and provide information that could be helpful in conveying prognosis to patients, Halabi said. This information could also be used to help guide treatment approaches using either hormonal therapy or chemotherapy.
Halabi and colleagues from leading U.S. and international cancer research centers pulled data from nine large, phase III clinical trials to analyze outcomes of 8,736 men with metastatic prostate cancer. The patients had all undergone standard treatment with the chemotherapy drug docetaxel.
Site of metastases was categorized into four groups: lung, liver , lymph nodes only, bone with or without lymph nodes and no other organ metastases.
Halabi said more research is needed to understand how and why prostate cancer spreads to different organs.
What Are The Most Common Sites Of Metastatic Cancer
The most common sites for cancers to metastasize include the lungs, liver, bones and brain. Other places include the adrenal gland, lymph nodes, skin and other organs.
Sometimes, a metastasis will be found without a known primary cancer . In this situation, your healthcare provider will search extensively for the primary cancer source. If none can be found, its called cancer of unknown primary .
What If You Have Metastatic Hormone
If your doctor tells you that you have this type of metastatic prostate cancer, it means your cancer responds to hormone therapy
Most prostate cancer cells need male sex hormones, including androgens like testosterone, to grow. A type of hormone therapy like androgen deprivation therapy could slow the growth of mHSPC by lowering the level of these hormones.
You could also ask your doctor if youâre eligible for any clinical trials.
Still, some people with mHSPC prefer to avoid or delay getting treatment with an option called active surveillance. Thatâs when your doctor keeps close tabs on your health but doesnât give you treatment unless test results show your cancer is getting worse.
You could ask your doctor if watchful waiting is an option for you.
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Two Main Models Of Metastasis
The first model hypothesizes that metastasis-initiating cells need to undergo deep molecular rearrangements to proceed through the various steps of the metastatic cascade, and is often referred to as the phenotypic plasticity model. To leave the primary tumor site, cancer cells must undergo EMT. This process enables them to become more invasive and motile, allowing migration toward gradients of oxygen and nutrients brought by the vasculature associated to the tumor, often leaky, unorganized, and incompletely formed. However, recent literature has pointed out that EMT might be a dispensable process for the occurrence of metastasis but fundamental for the acquisition of chemoresistance .
In the process of initial seeding, cellcell interactions and cell adhesion to the ECM play a critical role. The ECM of the growing cancer undergoes numerous alterations in terms of both biochemical and physical properties . Integrins play a pivotal role in tumor progression, as they can couple ECM-derived mechanical cues with intracellular signaling pathways .
Metastatic PCas show higher levels of active 1 integrin, which confers both an enhanced capacity to colonize distant organs, through the adhesion to ECM molecules like fibronectin and collagen type I, and a survival advantage, through an increase in the resistance to anoikisthe programmed cell death induced by insufficient adhesion to the growth substrate .
How You Might Feel
When prostate cancer is advanced, it can no longer be cured. But treatment can control it for some time and help to relieve symptoms.
Finding out that your cancer cant be cured is distressing and can be a shock. Its common to feel uncertain and anxious. It’s normal not to be able to think about anything else.
Lots of information and support are available to you, your family and your friends. It can help to find out more about your cancer and the treatments you might have. Many people find that knowing more about their situation can make it easier to cope.
Talk to your doctor or nurse to understand:
- what your diagnosis means
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What Can I Expect If I Have Metastatic Cancer
Your healthcare provider will work closely with you. Theyll monitor your symptoms and find treatments to ease them. Youll probably have many medical visits and will need to make important decisions regarding your overall health.
Is metastatic cancer curable?
In most cases, metastatic cancer is not curable. However, treatment can slow growth and ease many of the associated symptoms. Its possible to live for several years with some types of cancer, even after it has metastasized. Some types of metastatic cancer are potentially curable, including melanoma and colon cancer.
What is the metastatic cancer survival rate?
The five-year survival rate of metastatic cancer depends on the type of cancer you have. For example, the five-year survival rate for metastatic lung cancer is 7%. This means that 7% of people diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer are still alive five years later. Meanwhile, the five-year survival rate of metastatic breast cancer is 28% for women and 22% for men.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
Learning about your condition can empower you to make informed decisions. Some people only want to know the basics, while other people prefer to know every detail about their prognosis. Here are some questions you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- Are there things I can do to improve my prognosis?
- What are my treatment options?
- Are there clinical trial options that might be appropriate for me?
- Will palliative care continue even if I stop cancer treatments?
- How often will I need to schedule follow-up appointments?
- Do I need to consider hospice care?
- Should I choose a person to make medical decisions for me when Im unable to make them for myself?
- What legal documents should I have in place?
- What resources are available to help me cope with my prognosis?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A metastatic cancer diagnosis is one of the scariest things you may ever encounter. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with advanced cancer, youre probably feeling a lot of complicated emotions. While most metastatic cancers arent curable, there are treatments that can ease your symptoms and prolong your life. Ask your healthcare provider for resources and consider joining a local support group. Talking with other people who are going through the same thing can be healing during this emotionally difficult time.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/20/2021.
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What Kind Of Treatment Will I Need
There are many ways to treat prostate cancer. The main kinds of treatment are observation, active surveillance, surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, and chemo. Sometimes more than one kind of treatment is used.
The treatment thats best for you will depend on:
- Any other health problems you might have
- The stage and grade of the cancer
- Your feelings about the need to treat the cancer
- The chance that treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
- Your feelings about the side effects that might come with treatment
Radiation Therapy For Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Radiation therapy may be used to treat men with high-risk prostate cancer or stage 4A cancer .
In these instances, external beam radiation therapy is commonly used, also known as EBRT. Using an external machine, your doctor sends targeted beams of radiation to the cancer site. Its administered five days a week in an outpatient facility throughout several weeks.
Radiation may be targeted to cancer that has spread to the bones as well, helping reduce pain.
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What Is The Typical Prognosis For Patients With Metastatic Cancer
There are select stage 4 cancers that are curable . However, most stage 4 cancers are what we consider treatable but not necessarily curable.
Many of the treatments we use, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy, are palliative. This means that these therapies can shrink tumors, relieve the symptoms of the cancer, and prolong survival but cannot completely eliminate the cancer. For some patients, palliative therapies can keep cancer under control for years. Multiple drugs usually need to be given in sequence over time because resistance often develops.
That being said, with recent advances in cancer treatment, we are seeing an increasing number of patients who have exceptional, long-term responses to therapy, particularly with immunotherapy and targeted agents. More and more patients are living longer and with an improved quality of life because of these advances.
Treatments To Help Manage Symptoms
Advanced prostate cancer can cause symptoms, such as bone pain. Speak to your doctor or nurse if you have symptoms there are treatments available to help manage them. The treatments above may help to delay or relieve some symptoms. There are also specific treatments to help manage symptoms you may hear these called palliative treatments. They include:
This is the team of health professionals involved in your care. It is likely to include:
- a specialist nurse
- a chemotherapy nurse
- a diagnostic radiographer
- a therapeutic radiographer
- other health professionals, such as a dietitian or physiotherapist.
Your MDT will meet to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options. You might not meet all the health professionals straight away.
Your main point of contact might be called your key worker. This is usually your clinical nurse specialist , but might be someone else. The key worker will co-ordinate your care and help you get information and support. You may also have close contact with your GP and the practice nurses at your GP surgery.
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Common Sites Of Metastasis
- All less common sites: 22.4%
Invasive lobular carcinoma tends to have a significantly different pattern of metastases than ductal breast cancer. In one 2017 study, almost 70% of people with metastases from lobular carcinoma had peritoneal metastases.
For roughly a third of women , cancer spreads to multiple organs at the same time.
What Will Happen After Treatment
Youll be glad when treatment is over. But its hard not to worry about cancer coming back. When cancer comes back it is called a recurrence. Even when cancer never comes back, people still worry about it. For years after treatment ends, you will see your cancer doctor. At first, your visits may be every few months. Then, the longer youre cancer-free, the less often the visits are needed.
Be sure to go to all follow-up visits. Your doctors will ask about your symptoms, examine you, and might order blood tests and maybe other tests to see if the cancer has come back.
Having cancer and dealing with treatment can be hard, but it can also be a time to look at your life in new ways. You might be thinking about how to improve your health. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or talk to your doctor to find out what you can do to feel better.
You cant change the fact that you have cancer. What you can change is how you live the rest of your life, making healthy choices and feeling as good as you can.
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Surgical procedures to remove the diseased prostate are usually necessary. Surgical procedures are not always necessary. If the disease is caused by bacterial infections, a doctor can treat the symptoms using alpha-blockers or surgery. Physical therapy, relaxation exercises, and warm baths are all recommended. A physician may also prescribe antibiotics to cure the infection. A bacterial infection can also cause a recurrence of the condition.
An enlarged prostate can be uncomfortable for both men and women. Some of the symptoms of an enlarged male reproductive organ include a weakened urine stream, urgent need to urinate, and urinary tract infections. BPH can also cause damage to the kidneys. A sudden inability to urinate can be life-threatening, as it can lead to bladder and kidney damage. Unfortunately, most men with enlarged prostrates put up with the symptoms for years before they seek treatment. However, many of the men with symptoms finally decide to go to a doctor for proper gynecological evaluation and to begin enlarged prostatic therapy.
How Serious Is My Cancer
If you have prostate cancer, the doctor will want to find out how far it has spread. This is called the stage of the cancer. You may have heard other people say that their cancer was stage 1 or stage 2. Your doctor will want to find out the stage of your cancer to help decide what types of treatment might be best for you.
The stage is based on the growth or spread of the cancer through the prostate, and if it has spread to other parts of your body. It also includes your blood PSA level and the grade of the cancer. The prostate cancer cells are given a grade, based on how they look under a microscope. Those that look very different from normal cells are given a higher grade and are likely to grow faster. The grade of your cancer might be given as a Gleason score or a Grade Group . Ask your doctor to explain the grade of your cancer. The grade also can helpdecide which treatments might be best for you.
Your cancer can be stage 1, 2, 3, or 4. The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, like stage 4, means a more serious cancer that has spread outside the prostate.
If your cancer hasn’t spread to other parts of the body, it might also be given a risk group. The risk group is based on the extent of the cancer in the prostate, your PSA level, and the results of the prostate biopsy. The risk group can help tell if other tests should be done, and what the best treatment options might be.
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Symptoms Of Metastatic Cancer
Metastatic cancer does not always cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, what they are like and how often you have them will depend on the size and location of the metastatic tumors. Some common signs of metastatic cancer include:
- pain and fractures, when cancer has spread to the bone
- headache, seizures, or dizziness, when cancer has spread to the brain
- shortness of breath, when cancer has spread to the lung
- jaundice or swelling in the belly, when cancer has spread to the liver
What Is Advanced Prostate Cancer
Advanced prostate cancer is cancer that has spread from the prostate to other parts of the body. It develops when prostate cancer cells move through the blood stream or lymphatic system.
Watch our video about advanced prostate cancer.
You might hear cancer that has spread described as metastatic prostate cancer, secondary prostate cancer, secondaries, metastases or mets. It is still prostate cancer, wherever it is in the body.
Prostate cancer can spread to any part of the body, but most commonly to the bones and lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are part of your lymphatic system, which is part of the bodys immune system. Lymph nodes are found throughout the body including in the pelvic area, near the prostate.
Advanced prostate cancer can cause symptoms, such as fatigue , bone pain, and problems urinating.
The symptoms you have will depend on where the cancer has spread to. Speak to your doctor or nurse if you have any symptoms. There are treatments available to help manage them.
Its not possible to cure advanced prostate cancer. But treatments can help keep it under control and manage any symptoms.
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Another type of prostate issue is chronic prostatitis, or chronic pelvic pain syndrome. This condition causes pain in the lower back and groin area, and may cause urinary retention. Symptoms include leaking and discomfort. In severe cases, a catheter may be required to relieve the symptoms. If the problem is unresponsive to other treatments, your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure. If these do not work, your symptoms could progress and become chronic.
An acute bacterial infection can cause a burning sensation. Inflammation of the prostate can affect the bladder and result in discomfort and other symptoms. This is the most common urinary tract problem in men under 50, and the third most common in men over 65. The symptoms of acute bacterial prostatitis are similar to those of CPPS. Patients may experience a fever or chills as a result of the infection.
Anatomy And Metastasis Of Prostate Cancer
The pudendal nerve innervates the few striated muscles within the prostatic capsule. The parasympathetic nerves emanate from S2 to S4 and form the pelvic nerve. The sympathetic preganglionic nerves, which reside in the thoracolumbar region between T6 and L2, provide the major neural input to the prostate and reach the pelvis through the hypogastric nerve .
Prostate cancer has been shown to metastasize by following the venous drainage system through the lower paravertebral plexus, or Batson’s plexus.4,9 Although hematogenous spread of other malignancies is most commonly to the lungs and liver, 90 percent of prostatic metastases involve the spine, with the lumbar spine affected three times more often than the cervical spine. Prostate cancer also spreads to the lungs in about 50 percent of patients with metastatic disease, and to the liver in about 25 percent of those with metastases.4
Epidural metastases are the result of contiguous spread from lesions of the calvaria to the meninges. Because of the protective layer of the dura mater, subdural and intra-parenchymal metastases from prostate cancer are rare .
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