Prostate cancer is a severe disease that affects older men due to the uncontrolled growth of the cells in the prostate. The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system and it is found below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The gland is sized and shaped like a walnut, and its size changes throughout a man’s lifetime. The first significant growth occurs during puberty due to an increase in male hormones known as androgens.
During adulthood, the size of the prostate tends to remain steady, but as men get older, the prostate starts to grow again, which can cause health problems. The function of the prostate is to produce a fluid that protects and nourishes sperm cells in semen, making the semen more liquid. Due to its location, health conditions in the prostate cause problems for men’s reproductive and urinary systems, while metastasis may also cause symptoms in other parts of the body.
Weakness or Numbness Experienced as a Prostate Cancer Symptom
In the cases of early prostate cancer, patients usually don’t experience symptoms, which can make diagnosis more difficult. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms may become more severe. These include urinary problems, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night, blood in the urine, erectile dysfunction, pain in the hips, back (spine), chest (ribs), or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones as well as weakness or numbness in the limbs.
Weakness or numbness can be experienced in the legs or feet and may also cause loss of bladder or bowel control. This symptoms are related to prostate cancer spreading and pressing on the spinal cord. “The most common site of bone metastasis in prostate cancer patients is the spine, followed by the femur, pelvis, ribs, sternum, skull, and humerus. As a result, prostate cancer is second only to lung cancer as a cause of metastatic spinal cord compression in men. Symptomatic lumbar and cervical epidural metastases develop in 27% and 6% of prostate patients, respectively,” explain the authors of the study “Prostate Cancer and Spinal Cord Compression.”
Management of Weakness or Numbness by Prostate Cancer Patients
When patients experience weakness or numbness in the limbs, it is likely that the disease has spread to the spinal cord and patients are already in stage IV of the disease. “Stage IV cancers have already spread to nearby areas such as the bladder or rectum (T4), to nearby lymph nodes, or to distant organs such as the bones. A small portion of T4 cancers may be curable using some of the same treatments for stage III cancers above. But most stage IV cancers can’t be cured with standard treatment,” state the American Cancer Society.
Treatment options for patients with stage IV prostate cancer include hormone therapy, external beam radiation combined with hormone therapy, TURP surgery to relieve the symptoms, drug treatments aimed at bone metastases like denosumab (Xgeva), a bisphosphonate like zoledronic acid (Zometa), external radiation aimed at bones, or a radiopharmaceutical such as strontium-89, samarium-153 or radium-223, active surveillance for those patients with other severe disease, or taking part in a clinical trial of newer treatments. Specific for patients whose cancer is pressing the spinal cord, steroids, lying flat to reduce movement, pain control medication, radiotherapy, surgery, and bisphosphonates may be recommended.
Note: Prostate Cancer News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.