Most men do not die of prostate cancer; some do. This booklet is designed to help those whose cancer has advanced and who will likely, at some unknown time, die of prostate cancer. The purpose is to give them and their caregivers a sense of the journey on which they are about to embark.
Once prostate cancer has metastasized, it cannot be cured. Hormone ablation therapy, such as Zolodex, and chemotherapy are aimed at slowing the spread of the cancer. Local radiation to eliminate a specific lesion may be used to reduce pain. Radiation also kills the cancer cells in a specific location but it does not kill all the cancer cells on the loose in your body and probably will not cure you.
Many clinical trials and experimental programs fall into these same categories - that is, slowing the spread of the cancer or reducing pain. A few will try to eradicate the cancer cells throughout your body and effect a cure.
Metastasis indicates that cancer cells have escaped into the body, where they may be producing tumors not yet visible on bone scans or other tests.
Prostate cancer can spread to organs as well as bones; it can overwhelm the liver or the kidneys. Severe changes in mental ability, such as hallucinations and confusion, may indicate metastasis to the brain. It is important to remember, however, that fatigue can reduce mental ability temporarily, and rest may be enough to solve the problem.
Any change in your body, whether discomfort or changes in how it works -such as frequency of urination, color of urine, etc.- should be reported to your doctor. Sometimes the cause will be easily corrected and your mind and body can be put at ease. Other symptoms may be indications that the cancer is progressing and, therefore, indications that you and your family have decisions to make regarding the quality of life and the treatments you want.