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Is It Painful to Die from Prostate Cancer?

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Ask a Doctor

I was just diagnosed with prostate cancer. It’s in the relatively early stages, and I still may beat this thing. But I’d be a fool if I didn’t plan for the worst. If my treatments fail and I have to say goodbye, I hope at least I can be comfortable. Is it painful to die from prostate cancer?

Doctor’s Response

Prostate cancer can be painful once it’s reached the later stages and no treatment options remain. However, not everyone with advanced prostate cancer will experience pain symptoms.

As prostate cancer progresses, symptoms may include:

  • Pain
  • Broken bones
  • Fluid retention (lymphedema)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Urinary or bowel problems
  • Metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC) – can cause paralysis
  • If you are in pain, tell your doctor so they can figure out ways to help you manage your pain. Hospice care, more generally known as palliative care, can help make you more comfortable through your final days.
  • The hospice will evaluate the ill person's medical condition, making note of symptoms including pain and all forms of suffering reported by the patient and family. The person's wishes about death are taken into consideration with a document called an advance directive or living will.
  • The hospice also will evaluate the spiritual status of both the ill person and the family, any financial problems that may prevent appropriate treatment, and any other issues the person or the family might have.
  • The hospice will care for the whole family as a unit.
  • A nurse will assess the ill person's condition and keep in close touch with the doctor. Other key staff members may be unique for each case. The nurse also will keep in touch with the treating physician and the hospice medical director about any symptoms of

Often the ill person's symptoms can be improved significantly even though the basic illness cannot be cured. A social worker will assess any issues affecting the ability of the ill person's family to deal with the illness or with any other social problems arising during the illness. Clergy will help the family deal with spiritual issues around death and dying.

If necessary, a nutritionist will help the family deal with the fact that the person's appetite gets worse at the end of life. At times, the patient no longer likes the taste of foods that he or she previously loved. The nutritionist may help the family find other foods or recipes that the patient can enjoy. A grief counselor will evaluate the family for any abnormal problems with the grieving process. Grieving often starts before the patient actually dies. The counselor will monitor the grief process for about 13 months after the person dies. This is also called bereavement counseling. Some hospices also can provide art or music therapy.

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Reviewed on 5/13/2019
Sources: References