Prostate Cancer (cont.)
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Dennis Lee, MD
Dr. Lee was born in Shanghai, China, and received his college and medical training in the United States. He is fluent in English and three Chinese dialects. He graduated with chemistry departmental honors from Harvey Mudd College. He was appointed president of AOA society at UCLA School of Medicine. He underwent internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
In this Article
- What is the prostate gland?
- What is prostate cancer?
- Why is prostate cancer important?
- What are prostate cancer causes?
- What are prostate cancer symptoms and signs?
- What are the screening tests for prostate cancer?
- What are false-positive elevations in the PSA test?
- What refinements have been made in the PSA test?
- How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
- How is the staging of prostate cancer done?
- What are the treatment options for prostate cancer?
- What about prostate cancer surgery?
- What about radiation therapy for prostate cancer?
- What about hormonal treatment for prostate cancer?
- What is cryotherapy for prostate cancer?
- What is HIFU for prostate cancer?
- What is chemotherapy for prostate cancer?
- What are the differences between hormonal treatment and chemotherapy?
- What about herbal or other alternative medicine treatments for prostate cancer?
- What is active surveillance for prostate cancer?
- Can prostate cancer be prevented?
- What will be the future treatments for prostate cancer?
- Prostate Cancer At A Glance
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
What is chemotherapy for prostate cancer?
Chemotherapeutic agents, or chemotherapy, are anticancer drugs. They are used (for hormone resistant prostate cancer) as a palliative treatment (palliation to relieve symptoms) in patients with advanced cancer for whom a cure is unattainable. Recall that the goal of palliation is simply to slow the tumor's growth and relieve the patient's symptoms. Chemotherapy is not ordinarily used for organ-confined or locally advanced prostate cancers because a cure in these cases is possible with other treatments. Currently, chemotherapy is used only for advanced metastatic prostate cancers that have failed to respond to other treatments.
Several chemotherapeutic agents have been used effectively to palliate metastatic prostate cancer. One such agent is estramustine (Emcyt). Another agent called mitoxantrone (Novantrone) has been shown to be effective in combination with prednisone for palliating androgen-independent prostate cancer. As mentioned previously, metastatic tumors that have not responded specifically to hormonal therapy are referred to as castrate-resistant prostate cancers. Newer chemotherapy medicines like docetaxel (Taxotere) have shown some promise in prolonging the survival of some patients with extensive prostate cancer. They may also decrease the pain related to widespread cancer. However, this comes at the cost of significant side effects that may impact quality of life.
The more common side effects of chemotherapy include weakness, nausea, hair loss, and suppression of the bone marrow. The suppression of marrow, in turn, can decrease the red blood cells (causing anemia), the white blood cells (leading to infections), and the platelets (resulting in bleeding).
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