What is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells anywhere in the body. It is used for advanced stages of prostate cancer. It is also used when cancer has metastasized (spread) into other organs or tissue. The drugs circulate in the bloodstream. Because they kill any rapidly growing cell, they attack both cancerous cells and non-cancerous ones. Dose and frequency are carefully controlled to reduce the side effects this may cause. Often, chemotherapy is used with other treatments. It is not the main treatment for prostate cancer patients.

Many chemotherapy drugs are given intravenously (with a needle in a vein). Others are taken by mouth. They are given in the healthcare provider's office or at home. You generally do not need to stay in the hospital for chemotherapy. They are often given once per month for several months.

What are the Benefits, Risks and Side Effects of Chemotherapy?

Over the last 10 years, chemotherapy has helped many patients with CRPC. Recently, chemotherapy has also been found to help patients with advanced prostate cancer when given at the same time as standard hormone therapy. Yet, chemotherapy may only works for a while.

The side effects from chemotherapy should be considered. Side effects depend on the drug, the dose and how long the treatment lasts. The most common side effects are fatigue (feeling very tired), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and hair loss. A change in your sense of taste and touch is also possible. There is an increased risk of infections and anemia because of lower blood cell counts. Most of these side effects can be managed, and lessen once treatment ends.

Updated August 2018