Understanding The Recurrent Prostate Cancer
Recurrent prostate cancer is when prostate cancer returns after the initial treatment or partial to complete remission has occurred. This is due to the reemergence of surviving prostate cancer cells that have grown large enough to be detected.
Following a prostatectomy, your prostate-specific antigen levels being to decrease. Eventually, they are no longer detectible, which is an indication that prostate cancer is no longer present. However, there is no clear reference for a normal PSA. It differs between men and can be affected by a number of factors. Following your initial prostate cancer treatment, PSA levels should stabilize and be low enough to where theyre not detected on blood tests. In some cases, PSA levels begin to rise again, indicating a need for further tests.
Even if youve had a prostatectomy, prostate cancer can recur in the immediately surrounding tissue, lymph nodes, seminal vesicles, muscles that control urination, the rectum, the wall of the pelvic, or metastasize into lymph nodes and bones further away.
Common Thoughts And Feelings
You may feel all sorts of things after you finish treatment. Some men are relieved and feel ready to put the cancer behind them and get back to normal life. But others find it difficult to move on. Adjusting to life after cancer can take time.
For some men, the emotional impact of what they have been through only hits them after they have finished treatment. You might feel angry for example, angry at what you have been through, or about the side effects of treatment. Or you might feel sad or worried about the future.
Follow-up appointments can also cause different emotions. You might find it reassuring to see the doctor or nurse, or you may find it stressful, particularly in the few days before your appointments.
Worries about your cancer coming back
You may worry about your cancer coming back. This is natural, and will often improve with time. There are things you can do to help manage your concerns, such as finding ways to reduce stress. Breathing exercises and listening to music can help you relax and manage stress. Some people find that it helps to share what theyre thinking with somebody else, like a friend. If you are still struggling, you can get help for stress or anxiety on the NHS you can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service or ask your GP.
If youre worried about your PSA level or have any new symptoms, speak to your doctor or nurse. If your cancer does come back, youÃ¢ll be offered further treatment.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor Or Nurse
You may find it helpful to keep a note of any questions you have to take to your next appointment.
- What type of surgery do you recommend for me and why?
- What type of surgery do you recommend for me? Will you try to do nerve-sparing surgery?
- How many of these operations have you done and how many do you do each year?
- Can I see the results of radical prostatectomies youve carried out?
- What pain relief will I get after the operation?
- How and when will we know whether the operation has removed all of the cancer?
- How often will my PSA level be checked?
- What is the chance of needing further treatment after surgery?
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Treating Prostate Cancer That Doesnt Go Away Or Comes Back After Treatment
If your prostate-specific antigen blood level shows that your prostate cancer has not been cured or has come back after the initial treatment, further treatment can often still be helpful. Follow-up treatment will depend on where the cancer is thought to be and what treatment youve already had. Imaging tests such as CT, MRI, or bone scans may be done to get a better idea about where the cancer is.
Where Do These Numbers Come From
The American Cancer Society relies on information from the SEER database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute , to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.
The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for prostate cancer in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group cancers by AJCC TNM stages . Instead it groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages.
- Localized: There is no sign that the cancer has spread outside the prostate.
- Regional: The cancer has spread outside the prostate to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
- Distant: The cancer has spread to parts of the body farther from the prostate, such as the lungs, liver, or bones.
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Prostate Cancer That Doesnt Respond To Treatment
If your blood levels show that your prostate cancer was not effectively cured by treatment, your doctor will recommend further treatment to try and eradicate the cellular mutations. Depending on where the cancer isif its localized or has spreadthese treatment options vary. It may require a combination of surgery, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, cryotherapy, or more. Active surveillance is essential in the long-term treatment.
Staging Of Prostate Cancer
Doctors will use the results of your prostate examination, biopsy and scans to identify the âstageâ of your prostate cancer .
The stage of the cancer will determine which types of treatments will be necessary.
If prostate cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the chances of survival are generally good.
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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.
Certain Factors Affect Prognosis And Treatment Options
The prognosis and treatment options depend on the following:
- The stage of the cancer .
- The patients age.
- Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred .
Treatment options also may depend on the following:
- Whether the patient has other health problems.
- The expected side effects of treatment.
- Past treatment for prostate cancer.
- The wishes of the patient.
Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die of it.
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What Is The Outlook
No cure is available for stage 4 prostate cancer. Your healthcare team will work with you to help control the cancer for as long as possible while maintaining a good quality of life.
Your outlook will depend on how fast the cancer is spreading and how well you respond to therapies.
With treatment, you can live for many years with metastatic prostate cancer.
Questions To Ask The Doctor
- What treatment do you think is best for me?
- Whats the goal of this treatment? Do you think it could cure the cancer?
- Will treatment include surgery? If so, who will do the surgery?
- What will the surgery be like?
- Will I need other types of treatment, too?
- Whats the goal of these treatments?
- What side effects could I have from these treatments?
- What can I do about side effects that I might have?
- Is there a clinical trial that might be right for me?
- What about special vitamins or diets that friends tell me about? How will I know if they are safe?
- How soon do I need to start treatment?
- What should I do to be ready for treatment?
- Is there anything I can do to help the treatment work better?
- Whats the next step?
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Treatment For Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Treatment for prostate cancer that has spread to the bones and/or other organs in the body is aimed at relieving symptoms and slowing the cancers growth. Treatment may include:
- Hormone therapy to slow cancer growth.
- Radiation therapy to shrink tumours and ease pain.
- Chemotherapy to stop the growth of cancer cells.
- Surgery to remove blockages that are causing problems .
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
If you have prostate cancer, you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- Why did I get prostate cancer?
- What is my Gleason score? What is my Grade Group? What do these numbers mean for me?
- Has the cancer spread outside of the prostate gland?
- What is the best treatment for the stage of prostate cancer I have?
- If I choose active surveillance, what can I expect? What signs of cancer should I look out for?
- What are the treatment risks and side effects?
- Is my family at risk for developing prostate cancer? If so, should we get genetic tests?
- Am I at risk for other types of cancer?
- What type of follow-up care do I need after treatment?
- Should I look out for signs of complications?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Prostate cancer is a common cancer that affects males. Most prostate cancers grow slowly and remain in the prostate gland. For a small number, the disease can be aggressive and spread quickly to other parts of the body. Men with slow-growing prostate cancers may choose active surveillance. With this approach, you can postpone, and sometimes completely forego, treatments. Your healthcare provider can discuss the best treatment option for you based on your Gleason score and Group Grade.
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Can Prostate Cancer Be Prevented
There are no clear prevention strategies for prostate cancer. There is some conflicting evidence that a healthy diet composed of low fat, high vegetables and fruits may help reduce your risk of prostate cancer. Routine screening, with PSA blood test and physical exam, is important to detect prostate cancer at an early stage. A healthy diet and regular exercise are also critical in maintaining good health and preventing disease in general.
What Are The Most Common Side Effects Of Prostate Cancer Treatments
The prostate is close to the bladder and rectum. It is surrounded by a delicate network of nerves and blood vessels that enable you to get an erection. Treatments for prostate cancer can affect your urinary, bowel, and sexual functioning.
It is important to communicate with your doctor about any side effects you are experiencing as you undergo treatment. Ongoing communication will enable your doctor to manage your side effects as early as possible.
Leaking urineIt is normal to experience some loss of bladder control and leak urine after surgical or radiation treatment, but for most men, this will improve over time. For more information, see our section on what it is like living with prostate cancer.
Bowel problemsDamage to the rectum caused by surgery or radiation therapy can lead to bowel problems, including bleeding from the rectum, diarrhoea, or an urgency to go to the toilet. But this is very rare. Some men find they have softer stools during radiotherapy, but this resolves in time after the treatment has stopped.
Intact nerves: If you are undergoing surgery, depending on the stage and grade of your cancer, you may be offered nerve-sparing surgery. Nerve-sparing surgery aims to reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction and leaking urine. Unfortunately, some cancers cannot be removed without cutting or damaging the nerves, meaning you might always need treatments to help get an erection.
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Types Of Prostate Cancer
Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas. These cancers develop from the gland cells .
Other types of cancer that can start in the prostate include:
- Small cell carcinomas
- Neuroendocrine tumors
- Transitional cell carcinomas
These other types of prostate cancer are rare. If you are told you have prostate cancer, it is almost certain to be an adenocarcinoma.
Some prostate cancers grow and spread quickly, but most grow slowly. In fact, autopsy studies show that many older men who died of other causes also had prostate cancer that never affected them during their lives. In many cases, neither they nor their doctors even knew they had it.
What Happens After Treatment
If you’ve been treated, especially if a surgeon removed your prostate, your PSA levels should start to go down. Doctors usually wait several weeks after surgery before checking PSA levels.
A rise in PSA after treatment may suggest the cancer is back or spreading. In that case, your doctor may order the same tests used to diagnose the original cancer, including a CT scan, MRI, or bone scan. The radiotracer Axumin could be used along with a PET scan to help detect and localize any recurrent cancer.
Though very rare, it’s possible to have metastatic prostate cancer without a higher-than-normal PSA level.
Go to all of your follow-up doctor appointments. At these checkups, let your doctor know about any symptoms youâre having, especially ones like bone pain or blood in your pee. You could keep track of your symptoms by writing them down in a journal or diary.
At home, follow some healthy habits to feel your best:
Eat a balanced diet. It can boost your energy and your immune system. Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables and high-fiber foods. Cut back on fattening foods, sugar, and processed foods and meats.
Let your doctor know if youâre having trouble staying at a healthy weight or if youâre losing your appetite.
Get exercise if your doctor OKs it. It can be good for your body and mind. It can also help you stay at a healthy weight, keep up your strength, and help manage medication side effects.
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What Happens Without Treatment
Healthcare providers will sometimes talk about a particular diseases natural history or typical progression if it is left untreated indefinitely.
With regard to prostate cancer, most cases of the disease are discovered while the cancer is still confined to the prostate itself. This is called local disease or localized disease.
The disease is easiest to treat while it is confined to the prostate. At this stage, surgery and radiation are most likely to be curative and completely kill or remove whatever cancer cells are present.
If left untreated, however, prostate cancer can proceed on a number of different paths.
Can You Live Without A Prostate
Although the prostate is essential for reproduction, it is not essential to live.
In cases where the cancer is contained to the prostate it can be surgically removed through a prostatectomy.
A radical prostatectomy involves removing the entire prostate gland, the surrounding tissue, and some of the seminal vesicles.
Alternatively, laser prostatectomies can be effective as the least invasive type of prostate removal.
The most common prostatectomy is the transurethral resection of the prostate .
TURPs involve removing part of the prostate gland using a resectoscope which is passed through the urethra â this procedure is commonly used for people with an enlarged prostate.
In come cases prostate cancer can be treated with radiotherapy.
Radiation therapy for prostate cancer can irritate the bowel, the bladder, or both.
A person can develop:
Radiation proctitis: Symptoms include diarrhea and blood in the stool.
Radiation cystitis: Symptoms include a need to urinate more often, a burning sensation when urinating, and blood in the urine.
Bladder problems may improve after treatment, but they may not go away completely.
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How Does The Doctor Know I Have Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer tends to grow slowly over many years. Most men with early prostate cancer dont have changes that they notice. Signs of prostate cancer most often show up later, as the cancer grows.
Some signs of prostate cancer are trouble peeing, blood in the pee , trouble getting an erection, and pain in the back, hips, ribs, or other bones.
If signs are pointing to prostate cancer, tests will be done. Most men will not need all of them, but here are some of the tests you may need:
PSA blood test: PSA is a protein thats made by the prostate gland and can be found in the blood. Prostate cancer can make PSA levels go up. Blood tests will be done to see what your PSA level is and how it changes over time.
Transrectal ultrasound : For this test, a small wand is put into your rectum. It gives off sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off the prostate gland. The echoes are made into a picture on a computer screen.
MRI: This test uses radio waves and strong magnets to make detailed pictures of the body. MRI scans can be used to look at the prostate and can show if the cancer has spread outside the prostate to nearby organs.
Prostate biopsy: For a prostate biopsy, the doctor uses a long, hollow needle to take out small pieces of the prostate where the cancer might be. This is often done while using TRUS or MRI to look at the prostate. The prostate pieces are then checked for cancer cells. Ask the doctor what kind of biopsy you need and how its done.