Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body to kill cancer cells. The side effects from chemotherapy occur because it destroys both normal cells and cancer cells.
While chemotherapy is not part of the standard treatment for prostate cancer, it may be used if other treatments are not effective.
If you and your doctor decide that you are going to undergo chemotherapy, you most likely will take a drug called docetaxel, which is often combined with the steroid prednisone. If docetaxel does not work, your doctor may recommend cabazitaxel, a newer drug. These drugs may help you to live longer, reduce your symptoms, and slow cancer growth. In addition to these chemotherapy drugs, there are also many others that your doctor may recommend (mitoxantrone, estramustine, doxorubicin).
Unfortunately, there are many side effects associated with chemotherapy, such as:
Researchers continue to develop and study different strategies to slow or stop the growth of tumors. The drug cabozantinib, for instance, interferes with the process that cancer cells go through to create new blood vessels, which are needed for the cancer to grow. Cabozantinib is still being investigated. But, if you have advanced prostate cancer, you may be able to take this drug as part of a clinical trial.
Some of the side effects that have been reported include:
Immunotherapy is a drug treatment that aims to build your immune system so that you can better fight cancer cells. Sipuleucel-T is a type of immunotherapy that is approved to treat prostate cancer that has spread.
Some of the side effects include:
Chemotherapy for prostate cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-treating-chemotherapy. Updated March 11, 2016. Accessed September 20, 2012.
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116931/Hand-foot-and-mouth-disease. Updated December 30, 2015. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Prostate cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114483/Prostate-cancer. Updated September 14, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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