Hope and metastasis: Think they’re an unlikely pair? Think again. For the small percentage of men who’ve learned their prostate cancer has metastasized—spread to other parts of the body, usually the bones, and sometimes the lungs and liver—you can look forward to many tomorrows. New treatments can target tumors with greater precision than ever. Some work together to deliver a powerful one-two punch to cancer cells. Plus, many exciting therapies are currently being investigated.
Stage IV, or metastatic prostate cancer, occurs when malignant cells spread to lymph nodes or to organs or tissues in other parts of the body. While 90% of men are diagnosed when cancer is still local and not metastasized—and most of that 90% will not see their cancer spread—in rare cases some are diagnosed with Stage IV disease initially.
Bone pain, weight loss, swelling in the legs and feet, pelvic discomfort, erectile problems, trouble urinating, and blood in the urine and/or semen are common signs of advanced prostate cancer. However, not everyone with metastatic disease will experience symptoms.
Its first target is the tissue just outside the prostate and nearby lymph nodes (Stage III). But prostate cancer can also spread to distant organs—and its next target is almost always bones, according to the American Cancer Society, with the hips, spine and ribs typically affected. Prostate cancer can also spread to the liver and lungs, less commonly.
Yes! While Stage IV prostate cancer cannot be cured, it can be treated. Effective therapies are available to halt or slow cancer growth and to relieve symptoms, such as bone pain and weakness, and make your quality of life the best it can be.
So, that milestone you had in mind? Maybe it’s a birthday, an anniversary or a long-awaited reunion? With the help of your cancer team, modern medicine and your own will to survive, you may well enjoy that special celebration—and many more to come.