While most men who suffer from prostate cancer will undergo some form of treatment, some men choose to remain untreated for their prostate cancer. Patients may choose to have their doctors monitor their cancer if the cancer is expected to grow slowly based on biopsy results. This action is called active surveillance, meaning doctors will start prostate cancer treatment only if the cancer starts increasing. Other patients may choose not to have prostate cancer treatment because they may feel that the risks or side effects of prostate cancer treatment involvement (like surgery and radiation) outweigh the benefits. This option is absolutely understandable and reasonable in certain situations. Careful and thoughtful discussion with your doctor and family is needed during these decisions.
If prostate cancer is ultimately left untreated doctors will discuss the disease’s “natural history” or typical progression. Most cases of prostate cancer are discovered while the cancer is still confined to the prostate. This is called “local disease” or “localized disease.” Prostate cancer is easiest to treat while it is kept within the prostate. At this stage, surgery is most effective to remove or kill all cancer cells that are present. If left untreated, however, prostate cancer can advance through different stages.
Prostate cancer can spread outside of the prostate to the local tissues or to other sites in the body. The first locations that are typically identified are nearby tissues. Cancer can travel down the blood vessels through the lymphatic channels, or nerves that enter and exit the prostate. Prostate cancer can also erode directly through the capsule that surrounds the prostate. The seminal vesicles are another site of early spreading. More extensive spreading can occur with growing cancer invading the neighboring bladder or rectum. Further advancement begins once cancer has entered into these vessels. Prostate cancer cells can spore into any other part of the body. Prostate cancer is known to have an attraction for spreading to the bones, specifically the lower spine, pelvis, or femur. In rare cases, other organs such as the liver, brain, or lungs can also be the sites of cancer spread. Once the cancer has spread from the prostate, it becomes more difficult to treat and completely cure. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy become the best feasible options to treat cancer throughout the body.
With careful evaluation from visiting and consulting with your doctor, you can monitor your prostate cancer stages and make the healthiest decision for you.