Published on March 8, 2018
Many prostate cancer patients experience bone pain if their condition has spread, but there are treatment plans available that can dramatically reduce the symptom’s effect. Prostate cancer experts Elizabeth Harris and Dr. Celestia Higano from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance share tools and strategies to alleviate bone pain and improve quality of life for those living with prostate cancer. Watch now to learn more about pain and symptom management.
This is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power in partnership with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. We thank Astellas and Sanofi for their support.
Transcript | Treating Bone Pain in Advanced Prostate Cancer Patients
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What is bone pain? When a patient is meeting with you and says, “It hurts,” what are we talking about and how do we deal with it?
Okay. “Well, what particular part of your body hurts? What is your level of pain? What helps? Have you used heat or cold? Is the pain worse when you’re laying down, or in certain positions? What relieves it for you?” And then, if they…
A lot of times, Dr. Higano’s patients are referred to nutrition and to physical therapy. So they give them a regimen of exercises. I don’t know if maybe the exercises cause more pain. So, you delve into issues like that, and if they are still complaining of pain, then I defer to Dr. Higano or her nurse practitioner. “What medication would you like for this patient to have, or is it time to do a bone scan or a CAT scan?” And, they can present treatment options in case the cancer has spread.
So this bone pain—it is treatable. You have—and, it’s not just knocking someone out with narcotics. You can manage the bone pain, correct?
Yes—I mean, nothing is 100 percent, but certainly, we have many tools to address bone pain.
The reason we harp on bone pain is because the bone is the most common organ that prostate cancer spreads to, and pain resulting from that is probably the most common symptom besides fatigue. So this is why we honed in on bone pain, because it’s a very common problem, but there are ways of treating it with spot radiation, we talked about CyberKnife before, systemic radiation – we have the Radium 223—just treating the cancer, sometimes, is what we need to do.
But, the other thing with bone pain is that the average age of men with prostate cancer is in the 60s, and—well, of course, there’s a whole range, but the point is that sometimes, we have to distinguish between those pains that we were talking about earlier today from running or doing something else traumatic for many years and something related to cancer because every pain is not from the cancer.
It took me a while to learn that, and I was blaming everything on cancer.
But, on the other hand, as you alluded to earlier, I think men are more likely to say, “Oh yeah, this is just my old back pain. I’ve had back pain for years.” But, we still want to know about it because you’re not the doctor. Even if you think it’s your old back pain, let us decide because maybe there’s something different about this back pain. Like Elizabeth was saying, is it better lying down or is it worse lying down? If it’s worse lying down, a little red flag goes off because most benign back pains tend to be better lying down, not worse.