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Chemotherapy for prostate cancer

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Chemotherapy involves use of anti cancer drugs and is a standard treatment for advanced state of prostate cancer and when hormone therapy has failed. The treatment follows a pattern of consecutive cycles and it can last for 3-6 months, depending on the extent of damage.

How is chemotherapy administered?

The drugs are delivered either through mouth or injected intravenously i.e. directly into the vein. The drug mingles into the main bloodstream and reaches the cancer cells that have become metastatic, thereby, bringing about the desired action.

When is chemotherapy needed?

Chemotherapy is not the treatment measure for early stage of prostate cancer. It’s offered in early stage only as a part of clinical trial and with the consent of the individual. Otherwise, the anti-cancer drugs are used only when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body and the patient is not responding to hormonal treatments.

How does chemotherapy work on cancerous prostate cells?

Chemotherapy doesn’t guarantee complete cure from prostate cancer. But the anti-cancer drugs are capable of shrinking cancer. The drugs damage the cancerous prostate cells at different stages in the process of cell division, thereby stopping their multiplication. This way the survival period of prostate cancer patients is increased.

Do other medicines interfere with chemotherapy treatment?

Some medicines can interfere with the anti cancer drugs. Your doctor will verify your previous medical history and you need to tell him the prescription and non prescription drugs you are taking. Your doctor will let you know if you need to stop the medicines before or while undergoing the treatment.

What are the advantages of chemotherapy for prostate cancer?

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The one and only stark advantage of chemotherapy of prostate cancer is increased survival rate. The treatment is a ray of hope for patients to get rid of prostate cancer.

Side effects of chemotherapy for prostate cancer

Apart from the target metastatic prostate cells, other healthy cells might also get damaged. This includes cells of the inner lining of the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow and hair follicles.

A person undergoing chemotherapy for prostate cancer is obvious to experience the following side effects:

  • Hair loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sores inside mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Easy bruising and bleeding
  • Vulnerability to infections due to low blood count

Most of the side effects of chemotherapy are short term and goes away after the treatment is over. Infertility (inability to have a baby) is a potent and permanent side effect of chemotherapy.

The side effects vary for different drug types.

What drugs are used to in chemotherapy for prostate cancer?

A number of chemotherapy drugs may be used for treating advanced state of prostate cancer. They are:

  • Docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • Mitoxantrone
  • Epirubicin
  • Paclitaxel (Taxol)
  • Estramustine

Among them, Docetaxel is the most common.

How to prepare for chemotherapy treatment for prostate cancer?

Lot of things are taken into consideration before administering chemotherapy. Your health will be thoroughly checked and you need to undergo several tests, like blood tests, radiology, dental exams and podiatric tests before your doctor initiates the treatment.

The severity and the extent of damage caused by the cancerous prostate cells are evaluated and then the anti cancer drugs are prescribed. You need to discuss the side effects with your doctor to cope with your health in a better way.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 27, 2015