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Treatment Options for Metastatic or Advanced Prostate Cancer

When prostate cancer has spread to places in your body that aren't close to your prostate, it's called advanced prostate cancer. It's also called metastatic prostate cancer. Your doctor may suggest one or more of these treatments if you have advanced prostate cancer:

  • Hormone therapy. The goal of hormone treatment is to lower or block male hormones, such as testosterone, which cause the cancer to grow. This may be done in a few ways. One way is to get hormone shots every month or every several months. Another way is to have surgery that removes the testicles, which produce testosterone. Pills can also be taken to help control hormones, although these are not usually used as the only form of hormone therapy. Hormone treatment does not cure prostate cancer, but it does slow its growth. This treatment can be used alone, or it can be combined with internal or external radiation.

  • Radiation therapy. If your cancer has spread far from your prostate, such as to your bones, you may have external radiation, also called XRT, to help ease pain or other symptoms. You get external radiation by having a machine direct radiation from the outside of your body. If the cancer has spread to many places, such as several different bones, you may get an injection of a radioactive drug instead.

  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to slow the growth of cancer and reduce symptoms. Chemotherapy is usually recommended if cancer has stopped responding to hormone treatment. Chemotherapy does not cure the cancer. It can decrease the pain associated with prostate cancer, shrink the tumor, decrease the levels of PSA, and has been shown to help some people live longer.

  • Vaccine therapy. A prostate cancer vaccine may be recommended 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 may help men live longer. 

You should also learn all you can about your disease and treatment choices so you can help make decisions about your care. One of the best ways to get the information you need is to ask your doctor and other health care professionals. Make sure you ask how the treatment will change your daily life. Find out how your diet might have to change and how you will look and feel. Ask how successful the treatment usually is and find out about the risks and possible side effects.

Online Medical Reviewer: Alteri, Rick MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Foster, Sara M., RN, MPH
Last Review Date: 8/22/2012
© 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.