Cancer of Nonprostatic Origin

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After completing a thorough lab analysis of your recent prostate biopsy, a specialized doctor called a pathologist reported a diagnosis of cancer of nonprostatic origin. This means that you have cancer in your prostate gland that did not originate there. Instead, it appears to have spread from another part of your body. The place where your cancer began is called the primary cancer or tumor. Sometimes the existence of primary cancer is not known until a patient has symptoms caused by its spread, or metastasis.

About the Condition

Cancer occurs when cells do not develop and die in their normal manner. The extra cells that result form a growth, or tumor, which can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors are not cancer and do not spread throughout the body. Malignant tumors are cancer. Their cells may invade and damage surrounding areas or metastasize to other locations in the body.

Your primary cancer has spread to the prostate gland. Located below the bladder and in front of the rectum in men, the prostate is typically the size of a walnut. It surrounds a portion of the urethra, or tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. Its main purpose is to produce fluid for semen, which transports sperm.

To help determine the best course of action for your condition, your doctor may want to perform one or more tests to find the primary cancer and see if it has spread elsewhere. The tests could include the following:

•  MRI Scan
•  Ultrasound
•  Lymph Node Biopsy
•  X-ray
•  CT Scan
•  Bone Scan

Treatment Options

Deciding on a treatment plan for your cancer can be complex and depend upon a variety of factors, such as your age, site of primary cancer, general health condition and personal preferences. For patients with incurable cancer, many treatment options can help minimize pain and improve quality of life. The following treatment possibilities are available:

Surgery – Removal of the entire prostate gland, called radical prostatectomy, can be done to treat prostate cancer. Surrounding tissues and nearby lymph nodes may also be removed.

TURP – Transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP, is done to help relieve symptoms in men who have trouble urinating. It does not cure cancer or remove all of the cancerous cells from the prostate. During the procedure, prostate tissue that blocks urine flow is removed using a small, electrified wire loop inserted through the urethra.

Radiation Therapy – Another treatment option is radiation therapy, which can be delivered externally or internally. In external beam radiation, a high energy X-ray machine is used to direct radiation at the tumor. Internal radiation therapy, or brachytherapy, destroys cancer cells with small radioactive pellets that are implanted directly into the prostate gland.

Chemotherapy – The use of anti-cancer drugs, or chemotherapy, provides a way to slow tumor growth and reduce pain for patients whose cancer has spread. The medication travels throughout the body (systemically) to reach cancer cells.

You may also consider participating in clinical trials. These investigative studies help doctors learn about new treatments and better ways to use established treatments. Talk with your doctor about the possibility of taking part in a clinical trial in your area.

What You Can Do

You can choose to take an active role in your health and well-being. Learn as much as you can about your condition and have a list of questions ready each time you meet with your doctor. Join a cancer support group and talk with your family, friends, clergyperson or counselor as you feel comfortable. Also, be sure to get enough sleep and eat healthy foods every day.

Additional Resources

American Cancer Society, 800.227.2345,
American Foundation for Urologic Disease, 800.828.7866,
National Cancer Institute, 800.422.6237,

This patient resource sheet is provided to you as a service of CBLPath® and is intended for information purposes only. It may not fully describe all aspects of your diagnosis and is not meant to serve as medical advice or a substitute for professional medical care. Your physician can provide you with a thorough explanation of your diagnosis and appropriate treatment options, which may vary. Only you and your physician can determine your best treatment plan.

Updated 9.07