Prostate Cancer: Treating Cancer That Has Spread

Man talking a pill with large glass of water.

Cancer that has spread beyond the prostate can often be treated. The treatments can include:

  • Hormone therapy

  • Chemotherapy

  • Vaccine therapy

  • Medicines for cancer in the bones

  • Medicines for pain control

Hormone therapy


Hormone therapy can slow the growth and spread of the cancer. The hormone, testosterone, can cause prostate cancer to grow. Hormone treatments can include:

  • Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists or antagonists. These medicines reduce the amount of testosterone made by the testicles. They are usually injected monthly or every 3 to 4 months.

  • Antiandrogens. These medicines block the body’s ability to use testosterone. They are given as pills.

  • CYP17 inhibitors. These slow the amount of hormones made in prostate cancer cells and other body cells. They are given as pills.

  • Orchiectomy. This surgery removes the testicles. The testicles are the main source of testosterone.


Chemotherapy (chemo) may help relieve symptoms and control the cancer. Chemo uses medicines to destroy cancer cells anywhere in the body. Chemo may be given by pill or injection. It may be used along with other treatments. Or it may be used instead of other treatments. It may slow the growth of cancer. By shrinking the tumor size, it may relieve pain and other symptoms. A medical oncologist manages chemotherapy treatments.

Vaccine therapy

Vaccine therapy may help men live longer. A prostate cancer vaccine may be an option for some men whose advanced cancer has stopped responding to hormone therapy, but is not causing major symptoms. The vaccine does not cure the cancer, but it may help men live longer.

Medicines for cancer in the bones

Medicines can help slow or treat the spread of cancer to the bones. If prostate cancer spreads, it often goes to the bones first. This can cause pain and other symptoms. Different types of medicines can be used to help slow the growth and help relieve symptoms. Some of the medicines contain radiation.

Medicines for pain control

Cancer pain can be managed with medicines. Prostate cancer that has spread may cause pain. This pain can be treated. Many of the treatments above can help relieve cancer pain. Pain medicines can also work. Controlling pain can improve your quality of life. It can help relieve stress and help you to better fight the cancer. Talk about the side effects of these medicines with your health care provider.

Online Medical Reviewer: Alteri, Rick, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Cunningham, Louise, RN
Last Review Date: 3/27/2015
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