Within the last 10 years, chemotherapy was only used to relieve symptoms associated with very advanced prostate cancer. The emergence of Taxotere followed by Jevtana (a second line chemotherapy drug) and several other chemotherapy drugs in clinical trials has lead doctors to realize the benefits of chemotherapy on men with metastatic or advanced disease.
Chemotherapy is a set of drugs taken either intravenously or orally by patients usually in Stage 3 or 4Prostatepedia_August2018_V3#12 (1) or in patients where cancer has returned after primary treatment (surgery and/or hormone therapy) to kill cancer cells or prevent them from multiplying.
Different types of chemotherapy drugs can be effective at different stages of in the cancer growth cycle. This is why doctors prescribe multiple chemotherapy drugs at the same time with the goal of shrinking the tumor and/or relieving symptoms caused by the cancer growth.
There are a number of chemotherapy treatments for prostate cancer. Some are effective in lowering PSA levels while others alleviate other symptoms taken on by later stage cancers.
Chemotherapy drugs for prostate cancer include:
- Taxotere (Docetaxel) – An intravenous drug used on patients who have developed hormone-refractory prostate cancer
- Jevtana (Cabazitaxel) – An injectable drug used along with steroids for hormone resistant prostate cancer and used on cancer that has not responded to docetaxel
- Mitoxantrone – Used in men with pain related to advanced prostate cancer
- Estramustine – An oral drug and may be taken with other cancer drugs safely
- Etoposide – An intravenous and oral drug used in combination with other drugs
- Doxorubicin – An intravenous antibiotic
Researchers are engaging in clinical trials to find chemotherapy regimens more tolerable and more effective than current front-line chemotherapy drugs, others are seeking a regimen that can delay the onset of metastases and some are looking to boost the results of front line chemotherapy drugs. Recent research has found that Taxotere (docetaxel) can significantly improve outcomes when added to standard treatment regimes like hormone therapy for advanced prostate cancer and hormone therapy plus radiation therapy for localized prostate cancer. Read more about these findings here.
In the video below, medical oncologist Alicia Morgans discusses the use of chemotherapy in prostate cancer treatment.