What should I expect as my cancer progresses?
How does prostate cancer spread?
Prostate cancer cells can move from the prostate to other parts of the body through the blood stream. Or they can spread to the lymph nodes near the prostate and then travel through the lymph vessels to other parts of your body. Lymph nodes and lymph vessels are part of your lymphatic system and are found throughout your body.
Prostate cancer most commonly spreads to the bones and lymph nodes. It can also spread to, or press on, the tube you urinate through (urethra), the bladder, the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder (ureters) and part of the bowel (rectum). Prostate cancer may spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs and liver. But this is less common.
If tests and scans show that your cancer is spreading, ask your doctor what will happen next. This can help you and your family prepare for what to expect. Find out more about advanced prostate cancer and treatments.
Watch our video about advanced prostate cancer.
How does prostate cancer cause problems?
Prostate cancer can cause problems if it is pressing on your bones or nerves. It can also cause problems by stopping your normal cells from working properly.
What problems can advanced prostate cancer cause?
The symptoms and problems you have will depend on where the cancer has spread to. Even though your cancer is still growing, you will still be able to have treatment to help manage these problems.
Advanced prostate cancer problems may include:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- urinary problems
- bowel problems
- broken bones (fractures)
- sexual problems
- build up of fluid (lymphoedema)
- low red blood cell levels (anaemia)
- metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC)
- high calcium levels (hypercalcaemia) – symptoms can include tiredness, feeling and being sick (nausea and vomiting) and difficulty emptying your bowels (constipation)
- eating problems and weight loss.
Some men find that they get more of these problems in their last months and weeks. Others find that existing problems get worse. There are treatments to help manage these problems and things that can help.
What should I look out for?
If you have any pain or notice any changes you’re worried about, speak to your doctor or nurse. You can also read more about problems caused by advanced prostate cancer, or contact our Specialist Nurses.
It's important to be aware of the symptoms of metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC). This is a very serious medical condition that affects some men with advanced prostate cancer. If you have any symptoms of MSCC, it’s important to get medical advice straight away.
Don’t wait to see if it gets better and don’t worry if it’s an inconvenient time, such as the evening or weekend. If your doctor or nurse isn’t available, go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department. Tell the staff there that you have advanced prostate cancer and that you have MSCC symptoms.