If you have been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer or if your cancer has returned after treatment, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy. Other options for managing advanced or metastatic prostate cancer are radiation therapy and hormone therapy.
Chemotherapy works by killing fast-growing cells, but the drugs cannot discriminate between cancer cells and other fast-growing cells, such as hair follicles. That is one reason for many of the typical side effects of chemotherapy treatment, including hair loss.
Prostate cancer is usually treated with the following drugs. (The generic name is listed first, followed by the brand name.) You may receive a single drug or a combination of two medicines. Chemotherapy may be given orally, in pill form, by injection or intravenously.
- Mitoxantrone (Novantrone)
- Vinorelbine (Navelbine)
- Docetaxel (Taxotere)
- Estramustine (Emcyt, Estracyt)
- Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
- Paclitaxel (Taxol)
- Etoposide (Vepsid)
Your doctor may have you continue with hormone therapy while you are receiving chemotherapy.
You may receive chemotherapy once a week or once every three weeks. Treatment will continue for as long as the cancer is responding, unless side effects become a problem.
Some promising chemotherapy treatments are only available through a clinical study. Our doctors are at the forefront of prostate cancer research and are leading a number of studies looking for new and better treatments for prostate cancer.
Ask your doctor about clinical studies that may be appropriate for you. You may want to read more about clinical studies of treatments for prostate cancer.
You will receive outpatient chemotherapy in the Infusion Suite on the fifth floor of the SCCA clinic on south Lake Union. You may want to bring a friend or family member to sit with you during your treatment, which may take several hours. Inpatient chemotherapy occurs at University of Washington Medical Center.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Any man considering chemotherapy will want to weigh the risks and benefits of the treatment.
Chemotherapy does not cure prostate cancer, which is one reason it is not used to treat a first occurrence of localized prostate cancer. However, if you have advanced prostate cancer, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy as your best option to extend your life and also to improve your quality of life.
The side effects of chemotherapy are well known. These include nausea and vomiting, hair loss, weight loss and fatigue. There are new, effective drugs that can control side effects such as nausea and vomiting. Chemotherapy bothers some people more than others, and different ways of administering the treatment can reduce the side effects.