A metastasis, or a “met,” is a tumor, or an abnormal growth, that has developed in another part of the body other than where the cancer originally began (for our discussion here, the prostate gland). We do not fully understand how metastases spread from one part of the body to another. Some scientists think that the cancer moves through the blood stream while others think it travels through the lymph system. In the end, it doesn’t matter how it travels. What does matter is that it has traveled beyond the prostate gland itself.
The most common target for a prostate cancer metastasis is bone, particularly in the pelvis, spine, thighs, and ribs. Prostate cancer can also travel to soft tissue organs such as lymph nodes, the liver, lung, and brain. Over time, the metastases will continue to grow, weakening and breaking bones, eventually pushing aside surrounding organs, causing pain, disability, and ultimately, organ failure. That is how many men actually die from prostate cancer.
I tell my doctor about every one of my aches and pains, just in case I am developing a metastasis that will need quick treatment. Sometimes I feel like all I do is complain