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Prostate Cancer: Chemotherapy

Prostate cancer may be treated with chemotherapy. This is the use of medications to destroy cancer cells. The medicines change how cancer cells grow or reproduce. 

Chemotherapy medicines may be used if cancer has spread to other parts of your body and hormone therapy is not working. It is not common to use this treatment for early prostate cancer. Chemotherapy does not cure prostate cancer, but it may slow the growth of the cancer, relieve symptoms from it, and improve your quality of life.

How chemotherapy is done

There are many different kinds of chemotherapy medicines. You will likely only be given 1 medicine for your treatment. Each medicine works in a different way. Some are given by mouth as pills. Other types of medicines are given in a vein through an IV. The most common medicine used is docetaxel. It is usually given with prednisone. This is a steroid medicine.

What to expect for your treatment

Most people have chemotherapy as outpatients at hospitals or clinics. You will likely not need to stay overnight. Chemotherapy is given in cycles that last a few weeks. You will be given the medicines with rest periods in between. This is to help let your body recover.

Side effects of chemotherapy

Chemotherapy affects normal cells as well as cancer cells. This can cause side effects. The side effects depend on the amount and type of medicine used. Talk with your health care providers about what to expect. Side effects may occur in the days or weeks while you are having chemotherapy. Once your treatment has ended, the side effects usually go away. The side effects may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Decreased appetite

  • Sores in the mouth

  • Diarrhea

  • Feeling tired

  • Increased chance of infection

  • Loss of hair

  • Easy bruising

  • Tingling, burning sensations, or numbness in the hands or feet

Talk with your health care providers about any side effects you have. They may be able to help lessen them. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Alteri, Rick MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Cunningham, Louise, RN
Last Review Date: 3/23/2015
© 2013 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.