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Advanced prostate cancer (PCa), along with breast and lung cancer, has a preference for spreading first to bone (bone mets). Bone mets differ from primary bone cancer, which is rare and begins in the bone itself. Bone mets are much more common; nine out of ten advanced PCa patients will eventually have bone mets. This is very discouraging for patients who are already on a cancer journey that might include surgery or radiation, secondary radiation for post-surgery recurrence, hormone ablation, dealing with hormone side effects—and now this. It’s overwhelming.
Most frequently reported symptoms
A great support movement for advanced PCa patients is Men Who Speak Up. In 2015, Men Who Speak Up joined forces with other PCa patient organizations to poll patients and caregivers on the symptoms they experience. Here are the top five symptoms reported by U.S. participants:
- Fatigue (85%)
- Pain or aches in specific places (71%)
- All over aches or pains (55%)
- Numbness or weakness (55%)
- Difficulty sleeping as a result of pain (42%)
Why is fatigue the number one symptom? According to Cancer Research UK, there are several reasons:
- It could be because there is cancer in the bone marrow and that slows down the production of red blood cells, causing anemia.
- A cancer that affects your hormone levels could cause fatigue. [Note: hormone ablation to eliminate testosterone is a standard of care for men with advanced prostate cancer.]
- People with advanced cancers seem more likely to have fatigue than people in the earlier stages. This could be because there are more cancer cells in the body.
- Tumors produce substances called cytokines that cause tiredness. Some cancers also produce toxic substances that stop cells making chemicals that are important for keeping your muscles and heart working. You might feel sleepy and fatigued if their levels are low.
Report symptoms to your doctor
Men Who Speak Up encourages each individual patient to pay attention to his own body. Promptly report symptoms to your doctor! These telltale signs are “not just in your head” and you’re not “being a baby” to bring them to your doctor’s attention.
There are highly effective therapies today for bone mets and other complications of advanced cancers. Success is greatest when applied at the very earliest.
MRgFUS for bone mets
For patients with bone mets that no longer respond to drug/chemotherapy treatments, the Sperling Medical Group offers MRI guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) that can safely and successfully manage pain associated with bone metastasis. Contact the Sperling Medical Group for more information.
Copyright by Dan Sperling, MD. Reprint permission courtesy of Sperling Prostate Center (New York, Florida), the leading U.S. center for multiparametric detection, diagnosis and image-guided focal treatment of prostate cancer. The Sperling Medical Group offers noninvasive MRI guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) to treat a variety of conditions, including painful bone mets.
Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center
Cancer Research UK. Tiredness with cancer (fatigue)