Prostate cancer can cause complications in both the immediate area of the prostate and throughout the body. To learn about complications and side effects from various treatment options, visit the Prostate Cancer Treatments section.

Erectile Dysfunction

Tumor growth or treatments such as surgery and radiation can damage the delicate nerves near the prostate that control erection, leaving a patient unable to achieve or maintain an erection or to engage in sexual activity. There are several medications, medical devices, and surgeries available to help treat this problem.

Incontinence

Prostate cancer can affect the bladder and urethra, leading to problems ranging in severity from an overactive bladder to occasional accidental leakage of urine or complete loss of bladder control. Depending on severity and cause, this can be treated with medication, catheterization, or surgery.

Metastasis

In advanced stages of prostate cancer, tumor cells migrate from where they originally formed to grow new tumors in other parts of the body. This is called metastasis. The most common places for prostate cancer to spread are to the lymph nodes and to the bones—especially the pelvis, femur, ribs, and back. Bone metastases of prostate cancer can cause severe pain and fractures and are usually treated with radiation or chemotherapy.

Recurrence

Most of the time, prostate cancer treated with surgery or radiation will not come back, especially if it is caught early. But sometimes it can recur in the tissues surrounding the prostate or in other areas. Recurring prostate cancer can be treated with radiation, hormone therapy, or chemotherapy. But surgery, especially after radiation has been tried, has a high risk of side effects and is not commonly used.

Death

According to American Cancer Society, more than 27,000 men died of prostate cancer in 2009, making it the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. However, the overall prognosis for prostate-cancer patients is very good. Nearly one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, and patients have a very good chance of living a long time. The five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is close to 100 percent, the 10-year survival rate is 91 percent, and the 15-year survival rate is 76 percent.