Metastasis, Never Heard of That
“Hey man! If you’ve had your prostate removed, how can it be still called prostate cancer?” This was an actual question I noted someone asking one of my cancer brothers on the internet.
This question amazed me, as I sat and pondered how anyone could be so lacking in information concerning our type of cancer. As I spoke with many others, it became painfully evident.
What is the meaning of metastasis?
A great number of people in our society have never heard the word metastasis, or if they have, they have no true meaning of the word. To be very honest, prior to my being diagnosed with prostate cancer, I had never spoken that word, nor did I fathom what a terrifying word it truly was to a cancer patient.
Metastasis, as the National Cancer Institute defines it, means that cancer has spread from where it initially formed to another part of the body.1 It is tough for someone without cancer to realize the horrible meaning of this little-known or understood word.
“What do you mean, the cancer in your bones is considered prostate cancer?” many have questioned over the course of nearly four years.
A threat to prostate cancer patients
Advanced prostate cancer with extensive bone metastasis stage 4 is the official diagnosis my oncologist assigned to my medical condition. To the lay-person, I simply have prostate cancer, and I also have bone cancer, and neither are related. Oh, and bye the way, “I am glad you just have prostate cancer and not one of the others.”
Patients with prostate cancer can suffer from different locations of metastasis. For some, like myself, metastasis can take place in your bones. Others have developed metastasis in the lymphatic system or the internal organs. Any type of metastasis can become life-threatening to the prostate cancer patient.
The chance that your prostate cancer can develop secondary malignant growths throughout your body magnifies the overall importance of discovering this type of cancer early. Both my father and I were diagnosed late in the prostate cancer development. Our prostate cancers had metastasized into our bones.
A painful discovery
The fact that my prostate cancer had metastasized into my bones was the primary reason it was discovered during a visit to our local hospital’s emergency room.
I had developed extreme pain in my mid-spine and was unable to continue with my daily activities. Suffering a major fall during a spring turkey hunt, I was under the mistaken impression this was why my back was giving me so many problems.
Three long, painful nights led up to my visit to the hospital emergency room. I had walked the floor all night wrapped in a blanket unable to sit or lay down. Following three consecutive nights of agonizing pain, I finally gave in and made the dreaded trip to the hospital.
After five long, frustrating hours in the ER, the doctors presented me with their CT scan findings. The cancer was easy to distinguish on the scan, and it was located in a great number of bones within my spine and chest area.
Asking the doctors to explain
This is when I learned the true meaning of the word metastasis when it was said, “Even though the cancer shows in numerous bones, we believe the cancer originated in your prostate and metastasized into your bones.” Immediately, I asked the emergency room doctors to explain what exactly that meant.
Prostate cancer metastasis has proven to be the cause of much of my major pain and the greatest threat on my life. It was decided early on by my urological oncologist that my prostate would not be removed as a part of my treatment plan. It was determined my prostate was already too far gone to make its removal beneficial.
Getting tested early
In closing, it is my belief that one of our major responsibilities as a prostate cancer patient is to educate young men and the lay-person the definition of the word metastasis. We must also push the importance of being tested early in life for signs of developing prostate cancer.
What was the most difficult part of your diagnosis?