Understanding your prostate cancer

Getting your results

Your doctor will look at your test results to get an overall idea of how far the cancer has spread (its stage) and how quickly it might be growing.

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This will help you and your doctor discuss the best possible treatments for you. Ask your doctor or nurse to explain your test results if you don’t understand them. Or you could call our Specialist Nurses.

Depending on the results, your cancer may be treated as:

  • localised prostate cancer
  • locally advanced prostate cancer
  • advanced prostate cancer.

There are different treatment options for each stage of prostate cancer. If you have localised cancer, treatments are aimed at getting rid of it completely. And even with advanced prostate cancer which has spread, treatments can keep it under control, sometimes for several years.

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Localised prostate cancer

Localised prostate cancer is cancer that’s contained within the prostate. You may also hear it called early prostate cancer. Many localised cancers are not aggressive and grow too slowly to cause any problems in your lifetime. But, some may grow more quickly and spread to other parts of the body.

There are a number of treatments for localised prostate cancer, and there is no ‘best’ treatment each one has its own pros and cons. Thinking about these will help you decide which treatment is best for you.

Read more about localised prostate cancer.

Locally advanced prostate cancer

Locally advanced prostate cancer is cancer that’s starting to break out of the prostate, or has spread to the area just outside it. It can spread to the seminal vesicles, the neck of the bladder, back passage, pelvic wall or lymph nodes in the groin.Your treatment options will depend on how far the cancer has spread.

Read more about locally advanced prostate cancer.

Advanced prostate cancer

Advanced prostate cancer is cancer that has spread from the prostate to other parts of the body. It’s also called metastatic prostate cancer. Prostate cancer can spread to any part of the body, but it most commonly spreads to the bones and lymph nodes.

Advanced prostate cancer can cause symptoms such as bone pain and problems urinating. There are treatments available to help manage these symptoms.

It’s not possible to cure advanced prostate cancer, but treatments can keep it under control, sometimes for several years.

Read more about advanced prostate cancer.

Rare types of prostate cancer

For most men who are diagnosed, the type of prostate cancer is adenocarcinoma, or acinar adenocarcinoma. You might see this written on your pathology report. There are other types of prostate cancer, which are very rare. These include:

  • small cell prostate cancer (neuroendocrine prostate cancer)
  • large cell prostate cancer (neuroendocrine prostate cancer)
  • glandular prostate cancers
  • ductal prostate cancer (ductal adenocarcinoma)
  • mucinous prostate cancer (mucinous adenocarcinoma)
  • signet ring cell prostate cancer
  • basal cell prostate cancer (adenoid cystic prostate cancer)
  • prostate sarcomas, such as leiomyosarcoma.

If you are diagnosed with one of these rare kinds of prostate cancer, speak to your doctor or nurse about what it means and about the treatments available to you.

Read more about rare types of prostate cancer.

What is my outlook?

You may be concerned about the future and how a diagnosis of prostate cancer will affect your life and your loved ones. It can be difficult and stressful trying to make a decision about your treatment.

Many men will want to know how successful their treatment is likely to be. This is sometimes called your outlook or prognosis.

No one can tell you exactly what your outlook will be, as it will depend on many things, including the stage of your prostate cancer and how quickly it might be growing. Your age, general health and any other health problems will also affect how long you will live. Speak to your doctor about your own situation.

Localised prostate cancer

It’s normal to worry about dying if you’ve just been told you have cancer. But most localised prostate cancer is slow-growing and may not shorten a man’s life. For many men with localised prostate cancer, treatment will get rid of the cancer. So having prostate cancer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll die from it. For some men, treatment may be less successful and the cancer may come back. If this happens, you might need further treatment.

Locally advanced prostate cancer

It’s normal to worry about dying if you’ve just been told you have cancer. But many men with locally advanced prostate cancer have treatment that aims to get rid of their cancer. So a diagnosis of prostate cancer doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll die from it. But for some men, treatment may be less successful and the cancer may come back again. If this happens, you might need further treatment.

If you have hormone therapy on its own, it can keep the cancer under control, usually for several years. And there are other treatments available after hormone therapy.

Advanced prostate cancer

While it isn’t possible to cure advanced prostate cancer, hormone therapy can keep it under control, sometimes for several years. And when hormone therapy stops working, there are other treatments available to keep the cancer under control for longer.

No one can tell you exactly what your outlook will be, as every cancer is different and will affect each man differently. And not everyone wants to know about their outlook. If you do, speak to your doctor about your own situation. Some people find it helpful to discuss their outlook so that they can make plans for the future.

Find out more

For general information about the outlook for men with prostate cancer, visit the Cancer Research UK website.

References

Updated: February 2014 | Due for Review: February 2016

  • List of references  

    • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Prostate Cancer: diagnosis and treatment. Full guideline 175. 2014.