Prostate Cancer, Advanced or Metastatic (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Medicines may be used to slow the growth of prostate cancer and to relieve your symptoms.
Prostate cancer needs the male hormone testosterone to grow. Hormone therapy uses special drugs to block the production or action of testosterone and may cause the cancer to shrink. This can improve your symptoms. Hormone therapy may be given before or after radiation or surgery to remove the prostate.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to control cancer's growth or relieve pain. Often the drugs are given through a needle in your vein, and your blood vessels carry the drugs through your body. Sometimes the drugs are available as pills you can swallow. Sometimes they are given through a shot, or injection.
Chemotherapy usually involves two or more drugs given together. This is done to lower the chances that the cancer cells will become resistant to the drugs. It is most often used when prostate cancer is hormone-resistant.
Hormone therapy usually works well at first to stop cancer growth. But in most cases the cancer returns in a few years. At this point, the cancer is called hormone-resistant. This means it will no longer get better with hormone therapy. When this happens, other kinds of hormone treatment may work. If the cancer continues to grow, chemotherapy may be the next choice.
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer also includes orchiectomy, which is the surgical removal of the testicles. Hormone therapy is commonly used with radiation therapy. It may be used alone with metastatic cancer.
Chemotherapy may be helpful when prostate cancer no longer responds to hormone therapy.
Pain-relief and appetite-stimulant drugs
Pain-relief and appetite-stimulant drugs may be used when prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Pain medicines are made that specifically treat mild, moderate, and severe pain, as well as different types of pain such as burning and tingling. To learn more, see:
For more information, see the topic Cancer Pain.
Medicines for treating side effects
Hormone therapy can cause loss of sexual desire, hot flashes, enlarged and painful breasts, and erection problems.
What to Think About
Antiandrogen hormone therapy also may cause diarrhea, breast tenderness, and nausea. Cases of liver problems, some serious, have been reported.
When surgery or hormone therapy reduces the body's hormones, the bones may begin to lose their mineral density. Bone mineral density refers to how many minerals-which make your bones stronger-are in your bones. Bones that become thin and brittle are more likely to break, and studies show that hormone therapy increases the likelihood of broken bones.6 Pills or shots of a medicine called bisphosphonate can help prevent bone loss during long-term hormone therapy. These medicines may also help men whose prostate cancer has spread to the bones. Regular exercise also helps. For more information, see the topic Osteoporosis.
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