The vast majority of men with advanced prostate cancer will eventually develop bone metastases. Given this fact it is important to understand what is meant by the term bone metastases.

Bones serve as the supporting framework of our bodies. Like the rest of us bones are constructed of cells. These cells compose a network or matrix of fibrous tissue which allow minerals such as calcium to become attached, giving our bones strength and hardness.

The bone contains two different types of cells, the osteoblast cells that form new bone and the osteoclast cells that dissolve old bone. Both of these cell types are in constant action, but they are normally in balance with each other. Osteoclast cells break down old bone while osteoblast cells work to replace the cells destroyed by the osteoclast cells. In the healthy body these two opposing forces work together in harmony, maintaining a perfect balance of healthy and strong bone.

Prostate cancer can spread to nearly all tissues of the body, however, bone is the most common site for prostate cancer spread. When this happens we have prostate cancer bone metastases, not bone cancer that is a different and unrelated disease that actually starts in the bone.

Prostate cancer metastases can occur in any bone in the body, but are most often found in bones near the central axis of the body. The spine is the most common site of bone metastasis, however other common sites are the hip-bone (pelvis), upper leg bone (femur), upper arm bone (humerus), ribs and the skull.

Once prostate cancer has spread to the bones or to other sites in the body it cannot be cured. However, it can still be treated with the goal oft shrinking, stopping, or slowing its growth.

This allows you to be able to live longer with a much improved quality of life.

Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.