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About the Prostate

What happens if the cancer comes back?

It can be extremely difficult to find out that your cancer has come back. All of the thoughts and feelings you had when you were first diagnosed can come back too. These feelings and fears may even be stronger than before. Some men find that using the same coping mechanisms they did during their first cancer diagnosis helps them deal with another cancer diagnosis.

For many men, even when the cancer comes back after treatment, it may still be slow-growing, and they continue to live long and active lives. Your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you.

If your cancer has come back, you may hear it called “recurrence,” as well as other terms like local, locally-advanced, regional, distant, or metastasis. These terms can feel very overwhelming.

Local recurrence
The new tumour is in the prostate again. The cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. If you have local recurrence, you might be offered further treatment to get rid of the cancer again.

Regional or locally-advanced recurrence
The cancer has spread to the area just outside the prostate, but it has not spread to other parts of the body. You might be offered further treatment to get rid of the cancer again.

Distant or metastatic recurrence
The cancer has spread, or “metastasised,” to other parts of your body. There may also be cancer cells in your blood or bones. Treatment can no longer cure the cancer.

Hearing that your cancer cannot be cured is distressing and can be a shock. There still may be treatments to help control the spread of the cancer cells, such as hormone therapy or chemotherapy.

Your doctor may start talking to you about supportive or palliative care. The focus of palliative care is to manage any pain you have and help find ways of coping with distressing symptoms. Palliative care is not just for men in the final stages of their life. Men with metastatic recurrence may receive palliative care for many months or years.