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male patient talking about prostate cancer

Metastatic prostate cancer is an advanced form of prostate cancer (stage 4) in which the cancer cells have spread from the prostate to other areas of the body. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, and most often affects men over the age of 50. Though prostate cancer typically grows very slowly, if left untreated, it can metastasize locally (within the pelvic region) or distantly (throughout the rest of the body). There are several types of prostate cancer, including:

  • Prostatic adenocarcinomas (by far the most common type, accounting for 95-99% of prostate cancers)
  • Urothelial cancer
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Small cell carcinomas
  • Squamous cell carcinomas
  • Soft-tissue prostate cancer

Causes and risk factors of metastatic prostate cancer

There is no known cause of metastatic prostate cancer, though several risk factors have been linked to the disease, including:

  • Being over the age of 65
  • Having a family history of prostate cancer
  • Eating a diet that’s heavy on red meat and full-fat dairy products and light on fruits and vegetables
  • Possessing certain genetic factors

Signs and symptoms of metastatic prostate cancer

Prostate cancer that has advanced to the metastatic stage often causes symptoms such as:

  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • General weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Bone pain
  • Unexpected weight loss

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to consult with your physician, as many other conditions can cause similar symptoms. Your physician can review your medical history and run diagnostic tests to identify your condition and recommend treatment options.

Metastatic prostate cancer typically spreads to lymph nodes within the pelvic region, though it may also spread to other nearby organs and tissues such as the bladder or rectum. If left untreated, it can eventually spread even more distantly, to areas such as:

  • Bones
  • Lymph nodes throughout the body
  • Lungs
  • Liver
  • Adrenal glands
  • Kidneys
  • Brain 
  • Pancreas
  • Other organs

As it spreads to other areas of the body, you might experience symptoms related to those affected areas, such as coughing or shortness of breath if the cancer has spread to your lungs.

Diagnosing metastatic prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is typically diagnosed with several exams and tests, including:

  • Digital rectal examination (DRE)
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test
  • Ultrasound imaging
  • Prostate biopsy
  • Bone scans, CT scans, MRIs or PET scans

If prostate cancer is found and it has already metastasized, additional testing and imaging will be conducted to determine where else cancer is present within the body.

Metastatic prostate cancer treatment

Depending on the type of prostate cancer you have, your age, your overall health and where the cancer has spread to, your metastatic prostate cancer treatment may include one or more of these treatments:

Common metastatic prostate cancer FAQs

If you have been diagnosed with late-stage prostate cancer, you likely have a number of questions about this malignancy and what you can expect moving forward. To help answer some of your initial questions, you may find it useful to browse the following articles:

The Moffitt Cancer Center difference for metastatic prostate cancer

At Moffitt Cancer Center, the multispecialty team that makes up our Urologic Oncology Program collaborates in regular tumor board meetings to provide our patients with individualized treatment plans that lead to better outcomes and an improved quality of life. As the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida, we are proud to offer comprehensive metastatic prostate cancer treatment, including cutting-edge new therapies that are available through our clinical trials program. Call Moffitt at 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online to consult with one of our oncologists about your metastatic prostate cancer—no referral is required.

check mark symbol Medically reviewed by Monica Chatwal, MD, Genitourinary Oncology Program


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