Chemotherapy for treatment of prostate cancer is the application of special cytotoxic drugs designed to either kill cancer cells or slow cancer cell growth.
Some cancers can be treated or cured by chemotherapy alone, in other cases chemotherapy may not be able to control the cancer but may be used to relieve symptoms such as pain and help you lead as normal life.
Chemotherapy in particular is used in the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer where the cancer has spread outside the prostate gland to the lymph nodes, bones, or other areas.
Who is Suitable for Chemotherapy
A chemotherapy regimen can be considered to prevent cancer cells from dividing and growing. Chemo is sometimes used if prostate cancer has:
- Spread outside the prostate gland, or
- When Hormone Therapyis not working
Types of Chemotherapy
There are many different types and combinations of chemotherapy used to treat various cancers.
These approaches is known as adjuvant therapy. Generally, chemotherapy is not used in this manner in prostate cancer.
How is Chemotherapy Administered?
The chemotherapy drugs travel around the body and attack rapidly growing cells.
The way chemotherapy is administered depends on a number of factors including:
- the type of cancer you have
- the drugs that you are taking
Patients usually have several sessions of treatment. Each session is followed by a rest period. Each coupling of chemotherapy and rest period make up a treatment cycle. The number of treatment cycles required is managed by your doctor.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
While chemotherapy is useful for the killing of cancer cells in the body, as with most other treatments, patients may experience side effects from the chemotherapy.
The different types of treatments have different effects on different people.
The main side effects of chemotherapy are:
- Risk of infection due to the decline in blood cell formation because of bone marrow suppression
- Bruising and bleeding from having too few blood platelets
- Feeling sick or nausea
- Hair loss
Most side effects stop or gradually get better when chemotherapy is over.
Other side effects can include:
- Neuropathy - nerve damage causing tingling, numbness, or pain in the fingers or toes
- Fluid retention
- Mouth sores
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue (from having too few red blood cells)
It is important that you tell the doctors and nurses if you are experiencing any side effects from your treatment so that they can discuss an appropriate course of action with you.