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What is advanced prostate cancer?

Advanced prostate cancer means the cancer has spread from the prostate to other parts of the body. It is sometimes called metastatic prostate cancer. It most commonly spreads to lymph nodes in other parts of the body or to the bones. It can also spread to other organs. 

Diagram showing advanced prostate cancer

TNM stages

The TNM staging system stands for Tumour, Node, Metastasis.

  • T describes the size of the tumour
  • N describes whether there are any cancer cells in the lymph nodes
  • M describes whether the cancer has spread to a different part of the body

In the TNM staging system advanced prostate cancer is

  • any T, any N, M1

Tests to diagnose advanced prostate cancer

You might have a few tests to help diagnose advanced prostate cancer. These can be similar to tests to stage prostate cancer, so you might have had some of them before.


The stage of your cancer helps your doctor to decide which treatment you need. Treatment also depends on:

  • your age and general health
  • your type of cancer (the type of cells the cancer started in)
  • how you feel about the treatments and side effects

Treatment might include:

  • hormone therapy
  • chemotherapy
  • steroids
  • external radiotherapy
  • symptom control eg treatment to help bone pain

If you have 3 or less, very small areas of cancer spread (oligometastases) your doctor might suggest you have surgery or radiotherapy to the prostate. This treatment would be part of a clinical trial.


Finding out that your cancer can’t be cured is distressing and can be a shock. It’s common to feel uncertain and anxious. It's normal to not be able to think about anything else.

Lots of information and support is available to you, your family and friends. It can help to find out more about your cancer and the treatments you might have. Many people find that knowing more about their situation can make it easier to cope.

Talk to your doctor or nurse to understand:

  • what your diagnosis means
  • what is likely to happen
  • what treatment is available
  • how treatment can help you
Last reviewed: 
18 Jun 2019
  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (7th Edition)
    S Edge and others.
    Springer. 2011

  • Cancer of the prostate: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    C Parker and others,
    Annals of Oncology, 2015. Volume 26, Pages 569-577

  • Prostate cancer: diagnosis and management 
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2019

  • Guidelines on Prostate Cancer 
    European Association of Urology, 2015

Information and help

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