Men may be diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in one of two ways: Some are initially diagnosed with advanced disease. Some men experience reoccurring prostate cancer after primary treatment fails them. Although they aren’t exactly the same, we use the terms reoccurring prostate cancer and advanced prostate cancer interchangeably, because the treatments are the same.
“I don’t feel anything, so how can my cancer be so bad?”
Advanced prostate cancer often occurs without physical symptoms. This may sound surprising, but feeling healthy is not a good indicator of how life threatening your prostate cancer may be. In fact, many men in our Malecare support groups learned of their advanced stage disease from elevated PSA scores or a suspicious image revealed by scans rather than having experiencing any physical symptoms.
About 30% of men who have had a primary treatment for prostate cancer eventually experience a return of the cancer, or Reoccurring prostate cancer. Even after our doctors assured us that our treatment worked and that we were cancer-free, it comes back. Truth is, prostate cancer never left us. The initial treatment simply failed to remove or destroy all the cancer cells in our bodies. It’s not anyone’s fault. In almost every case, your doctor treated you properly. But, it is a sad, although rarely discussed, fact that prostate cancer treatments are not foolproof. Their long-term effectiveness is unpredictable. Given the state of current medical science, that permanent “cure” that we all hope for is impossible to guarantee.
Cure is not a word that should be in our vocabulary – long-term remission and a chronic illness is our goal.
The most common concern is whether the prostate cancer cells have journeyed to distant parts of the body. When cancer cells have moved out of the prostate gland, we refer to this state as metastatic prostate cancer. Metastatic cancer is not a death sentence, though without proper understanding of the disease it can sound that way.
This is the main goal of these pages: Helping you to understand the disease and how to work hand-in-hand with your doctors so that you live a long, happy, and healthy life with the chronic illness called prostate cancer. Our goal is simple: to live long enough to die from some other cause. Many men live many years after their prostate cancer is determined to have metastasized. Even men who are experiencing physical symptoms may benefit from treatments that can add many months and years to their lives.
Men experience advanced prostate cancer along a continuum of symptoms. In its more advanced stages prostate cancer can be accompanied by physical symptoms, including stiffness in the lower back, upper thighs or hips. Some men feel aches and pains in their bones, which is the most common site for the development of metastasized prostate cancer tumors. Others experience swelling in the ankles (edema) caused by obstructions in blood vessels or lymphatic system, as well as weight loss, and an insufficient number of red blood cells (anemia).
Now, the good news: you can learn to live a long and enjoyable life with prostate cancer.
Our goal is to teach you about advanced disease so you can get on with enjoying your life. Advanced stage prostate cancer is serious, but there are excellent treatments available today, and many more in the FDA approval pipeline coming in the next few years.