What Are The Signs Of Prostate Cancer
Most early prostate cancers are detected with PSA tests or digital rectal exams before they cause any symptoms. However, more advanced prostate cancers can cause a variety of symptoms including:
- Trouble starting to urinate .
- Numbness in the lower extremities.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
All of these symptoms can be caused by things other than prostate cancer, so experiencing them doesnât necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. When older men have problems urinating, it is usually caused by a problem called benign prostatic hyperplasia , which is not prostate cancer. If you have any of these symptoms, you need to see your provider for testing.
Drugs To Treat Cancer Spread To Bone
If prostate cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it almost always goes to the bones first. These areas of cancer spread can cause pain and weak bones that might break. Medicines that can help strengthen the bones and lower the chance of fracture are bisphosphonates and denosumab. Sometimes, radiation, radiopharmaceuticals, or pain medicines are given for pain control.
Side effects of bone medicines
A serious side effect of bisphosphonates and denosumab is damage to the jaw, also called osteonecrosis of the jaw . Most people will need to get approval from their dentist before starting one of these drugs.
How Common Is Prostate Cancer
About one in nine men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis during his lifetime. Prostate cancer is second only to skin cancer as the most common cancer affecting males. Close to 200,000 American men receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer every year. There are many successful treatments and some men dont need treatment at all. Still, approximately 33,000 men die from the disease every year.
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What Will Happen In The Last Few Days
It can help to know what is normal in the last few days of life so that you know what to expect. You might not be aware of these changes when they happen because you may be drowsy or unconscious.
If you’re supporting someone who is dying, read about what you can do to help and how you can get support.
Many people worry about being in pain when they are dying. Some people do get pain if their prostate cancer presses on their nerves or makes their bones weak. But not everyone dying from prostate cancer has pain. And if you are in pain, there are things that can help to reduce and manage pain.
You should tell your doctor or nurse if youre in pain or if your pain gets worse. They can talk with you about how best to manage your pain and can help keep it under control.
You may find sitting or lying in some positions more comfortable than others, so ask if you need help getting into a different position.
Your doctor can give you medicines to help manage pain. The type of medicines they give you will depend on what is causing the pain and which medicines are suitable.
Your doctor will monitor how the pain medicines are working and may change the type of medicine or the dose. If youre still in pain or get pain in between taking medicines, its important to tell your doctor or nurse.
Sleeping and feeling drowsy
Not recognising people
Feeling restless or agitated
Changes in skin temperature or colour
Changes in breathing
Loss of appetite
Changes in urinating or bowel movements
Genetic And Genomic Tests For Localized Prostate Cancer
A man’s inherited genes predict his prostate cancer risk. For a long time, we have known that there is a family risk in prostate cancer. If your father or brother has prostate cancer, or your mother or sister has breast or ovarian cancer, you are at higher risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. To partially quantify that genetic risk, a germline test can be performed before a biopsy. This test of DNA from healthy cells can determine whether you have inherited genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, known to increase prostate cancer risk. If the test shows you’re low risk, you may be able to avoid a biopsy even if you have a slightly elevated PSA, while still being actively monitored for prostate cancer.
If already diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may undergo another type of test for assessing your genetic risk. A genomic test of tissue from your biopsy or prostatectomy can look for somatic mutations, alterations in the DNA of the cancer cells themselves. Genomic tests measure expression of various genes that relate to how aggressive a cancer is likely to be. They indicate how rapidly cancer cells are growing and how genetically abnormal they are relative to normal cells.
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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.
Does It Matter Where Treatment Is Performed
A large body of evidence shows that in the case of surgery for prostate cancer, surgical experience matters greatly. Medical centers and surgeons performing a high number of prostatectomies per year demonstrate better outcomes in terms of both cancer control and quality of life than those performing relatively low numbers. We don’t have similar data regarding radiation outcomes, but performing brachytherapy well certainly requires expertise and experience, particularly in prostate ultrasound. Planning and administering EBRT effectively has many subtleties, which likely translate to better outcomes with more experienced doctors. No matter what the practice volume of specific surgeons or radiation oncologists, they should be able to discuss their own demonstrated outcomes both in terms of cancer control and quality of life.
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Risk Factors For Formation Of Urethral Stenosis And Stricture
Risk factors include age, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, previous TURP , longer follow-up, higher radiation dose, HDR-BT, adjuvant RT and combination with BT . Delaying adjuvant RT for more than 9 months after RP may decrease stricture formation, however this is at the expense of an increase in cancer-specific mortality . Zelefsky found that intensity modulated RT increases the risk of late urinary toxicities including urethral stricture compared to 3-D conformal RT, but with lower rectal toxicity . However, a recent review found no difference in urethral stricture between 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy and IMRT . Similar to ERBT, BT strictures affect the bulbomembranous urethra in the majority of cases, which could be due to a ÃÂ¢hot spotÃÂ¢ in the distal bulbar urethra or due to caudal needle shifting in patients receiving HDR-BT , although Hindson found no relation between needle shifting and stricture incidence . A prospective, matched-pair analysis by Diez found no association between urethral stricture incidence and urethral dosimetry in patients receiving HDR-RT, however the number of events was too small to draw a definitive conclusion .
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Screening For Prostate Cancer
At UCSF, we believe in testing men so they know if they have prostate cancer, but that doesn’t mean every man diagnosed should have aggressive treatment. Screening is the only way to detect high-risk, potentially life-threatening prostate cancer early, while it can still be cured.
Most prostate cancers in the U.S. are identified through the following screening tests:
- Prostate-specific antigen . This simple blood test checks levels of prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced by prostate cells. The higher the PSA level, the more likely prostate cancer is present. But PSA elevations can also occur in benign conditions, most commonly benign prostatic hyperplasia, in which the prostate enlarges, as occurs in most men over their lifetime.
- Digital rectal exam . For this physical examination, your doctor inserts a lubricated gloved finger into your rectum to feel for any irregular or abnormally firm areas. While most prostate cancers are detected by PSA screening, some cancers produce little PSA but are detected by DRE.
In some circumstances, your doctor may order a repeat PSA or other tests to help determine whether a benign condition led to an elevated PSA. These tests may include:
- Free PSA
- Multiparametric MRI
An MRI exam of the prostate is helpful and can allow for a more targeted biopsy.
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Keeping Up With Appointments And Screenings
Attending your doctors appointments after youve entered remission is very important. If you need to skip an appointment, you should make another appointment as soon as possible.
Use these appointments as a time to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor. Your doctor can also conduct tests to check for the cancers return during these appointments.
Two tests to detect recurrent prostate cancer include a digital rectal exam and a PSA blood test. During a DRE, your doctor will insert a finger into your rectum. If your doctor detects something unusual, theyll likely ask for additional follow-up tests. These tests may include bone scans and imaging studies, such as an ultrasound or MRI.
Men often experience side effects from their prostate cancer treatments. Some of these side effects may be immediate and temporary. Others may take several weeks or months to show up and never fully disappear.
Common side effects from prostate cancer treatment include:
Diagnosing Cancer Of The Lymph Nodes
In addition to a biopsy, the TNM system is commonly used to issue a diagnosis and determine which type of treatment is best. The T refers to the size of the tumor or cancerous growth. The N refers to the number of lymph nodes that contain cancerous cells. And, the M is for metastasis, which refers to cancer thats spread to areas far from the originating tumor.5
This categorization is used in addition to other diagnostic tests and tools to determine the cancer stage such as:
- Imaging tests X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other types of imaging tests can provide a clearer picture and more information about where the cancer is located and how much is present.
- Endoscopy exams An endoscope is a thin, lighted tube with a video camera attached that looks around on the inside of the body for cancerous areas.
In general, cancers assigned as Stage I are less advanced and have a better prognosis and response to treatment. Whereas, a higher stage indicates that the cancer has spread further and requires a more intense or multiple types of treatment. Other factors that affect treatment are:
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What Happens If My Cancer Starts To Grow Again
Your first treatment may help keep your cancer under control. But over time, the cancer may change and it may start to grow again.
You will usually stay on your first type of hormone therapy, even if its not working so well. This is because it will still help to keep the amount of testosterone in your body low. But there are other treatments that you can have alongside your usual treatment, to help control the cancer and manage any symptoms. Other treatments include:
Which treatments are suitable for me?
Which treatments are suitable for you will depend on many things, including your general health, how your cancer responds to treatment, and which treatments youve already had. Talk to your doctor or nurse about your own situation, or speak to our Specialist Nurses.
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Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer Spread To The Bones
The most common place for prostate cancer to spread to is the bones. This can include the:
The most common symptom if cancer has spread to the bone is bone pain. It is usually there most of the time and can wake you up at night. The pain can be a dull ache or stabbing pain.
Your bones might also become weaker and more likely to break .
When prostate cancer spreads to the spine, it can put pressure on the spinal cord and cause spinal cord compression. This stops the nerves from being able to work properly. Back pain is usually the first symptom of spinal cord compression.
Spinal cord compression is an emergency. You should contact your treatment team immediately if you are worried you might have spinal cord compression.
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How Is Prostate Cancer Treated
The best treatment for your prostate cancer depends on your age, general health and the grade and stage of your cancer. Although nearly all treatments have side effects, most can be effectively managed. Ask your doctor what side-effects to expect and how best to manage these.
Active surveillance is sometimes a valid option and is a way of monitoring prostate cancer when it isnt causing symptoms or problems. This form of treatment may be suggested by your doctor if the cancer is small and slow growing and its unlikely to spread. The possible side effects of treatment such as surgery may have more impact on your life than the cancer. You will still need regular prostate tests, which may include repeated biopsies, to make sure things haven’t changed.
Watchful waiting is another way of monitoring prostate cancer in case symptoms develop or change. It involves regular prostate specific antigen tests and check ups. Watchful waiting is not as strict as active surveillance and additional biopsies are not usually needed.
Surgery involves the removal of the prostate , and sometimes the surrounding tissue. Surgery requires on average three to six days in hospital, followed by a four to six week recovery period.
Surgery is an option if you have localised prostate cancer and you are fit for surgery. Once the cancer has spread outside the prostate gland, surgery is not normally an option, however other treatments are available.
What Are The Stages Of Prostate Cancer
Your healthcare provider uses the Gleason score and Grade Groups to stage prostate cancer based on its projected aggressiveness. To get this information, the pathologist:
- Assigns a grade to each type of cell in your sample. Cells are graded on a scale of three to five . Samples that test in the one to two range are considered normal tissue.
- Adds together the two most common grades to get your Gleason score .
- Uses the Gleason score to place you into a Grade Group ranging from one to five. A Gleason score of six puts you in Grade Group 1 . A score of nine or higher puts you in Grade Group five . Samples with a higher portion of more aggressive cells receive a higher Grade Group.
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Who Is More Likely To Develop Prostate Cancer
Anyone who has a prostate can develop prostate cancer. But certain factors can make you more likely to develop it:
- Age. Your chance of developing prostate cancer increases as you get older. Prostate cancer is rare in people under age 50.
- Family health history. Your risk of prostate cancer is higher if you have a parent, sibling, or child who has or has had prostate cancer.
- Race. African Americans are more likely to get prostate cancer. They’re also more likely to:
- Get prostate cancer at a younger age.
- Have more serious prostate cancer.
- Die from prostate cancer.
What Causes Prostate Cancer And Am I At Risk
Every man is at risk for prostate cancer as he ages. Although prostate cancer can affect younger men, about 6 out of 10 cases are diagnosed in men over the age of 65. The average age of diagnosis is 66. After non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate is the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 248,530 new cases of prostate cancer each year.
Although there are several known risk factors for getting prostate cancer, no one knows exactly why one man gets it and another doesnt. Some important risk factors for prostate cancer are:
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What About Other Treatments I Hear About
When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.
Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.
Getting More Information About What To Expect
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Palliative care for adults: strong opioids for pain relief. Clinical guideline 140. 2012.
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Prostate cancer: Diagnosis and treatment. NICE clinical guideline 175. 2014.
- Salvati M, Frati A, Russo N, Brogna C, Piccirilli M, DAndrea G, et al. Brain metastasis from prostate cancer. Report of 13 cases and critical analysis of the literature. J Exp Clin Cancer Res CR. 2005 Jun 24:2037.
- Thompson JC, Wood J, Feuer D. Prostate cancer: palliative care and pain relief. Br Med Bull. 2007 83:34154.
- Vinjamoori AH, Jagannathan JP, Shinagare AB, Taplin M-E, Oh WK, Van den Abbeele AD, et al. Atypical Metastases From Prostate Cancer: 10-Year Experience at a Single Institution. Am J Roentgenol. 2012 Aug 199:36772.
- Kate Bullen, Head of School for Applied Social Science, University of Brighton, Brighton
- Jackie Dawson, Community Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust
- Hazel Parsons, Palliative Care Nurse Specialists, Dorothy House Hospice, Winsley, Bradford on Avon
- Elizabeth Rees, Lead Nurse for end of life care, Leeds Teaching Hospitals
- Our Specialist Nurses
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