Chemotherapy Drugs for Prostate Cancer
Chemotherapy is not a favorable treatment option for treating prostate cancer. The primary treatment for treating prostate cancer is surgery. Radiation therapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy are some of the other treatment options. Chemotherapy is not used as a primary treatment due to a couple of important factors. Firstly, the growth of cancer cells in case of prostate cancer is relatively slow and they divide at the same rate as the healthy cells, therefore making chemotherapy treatment irrelevant in the early stages of prostate cancer. Secondly, chemotherapy drugs for prostate cancer are toxic in nature and as they travel systemically or travel through the entire body system they also tend to attack the healthy cells functioning normally as they should. To avoid the possible systemic dysfunction or side effects caused by chemotherapy drugs, it is mostly not the preferred choice. Failure of other treatment options could convince the doctor to seek positive results from chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs for prostate cancer also cause various side effects including internal and external side effects. Unlike radiation therapy where only a particular region or part is affected, chemotherapy could cause various side effects affecting different parts of the body.
Use of Chemotherapy for Prostate Cancer
As mentioned earlier, prostate cancer chemotherapy is completely avoided in early stages of cancer. However, it is commonly used in cases of advanced prostate cancer and hormone refractory prostate cancer. Hormone refractory prostate cancer refers to that prostate cancer which was given the treatment of hormone therapy before. Hormone therapy may be effective in controlling the growth of cancer cells but it may fail and eventually may not be helpful in eliminating cancer. Chemotherapy helps control the growth of the cancerous cells. Advanced prostate cancer refers to the condition wherein the cancer cells rapidly grow, divide and metastasize to other parts. They also metastasize to the bones causing excruciating pain. Chemotherapy can also help control the cancerous cells that have metastasized or spread into the bones. Read more about treatment for metastatic prostate cancer.
Chemotherapy Drugs for Prostate CancerAlthough not used very much to treat prostate cancer, chemotherapy drugs do keep the cancer cells from growing and diving rapidly. However, these chemotherapy drugs also cause certain side effects that may vary depending on a variety of factors. Side effects of chemotherapy drugs for prostate cancer vary depending on the age, the dosage, the chemotherapy schedule and the combination of drugs used etc. Given below are some of the commonly used chemotherapy drugs for prostate cancer.
Vinorelbine is a chemotherapy drug that interrupts the process of division of cancer cells, thus killing them. Besides using it in the treatment of prostate cancer, it is also used in the treatment of breast cancer and NSCLC or non-small cell lung cancer. Vinorelbine is given intravenously and the dosage depends on several factors such as the body weight, the stage of cancer etc. Blood tests are usually taken before administering the chemotherapy to check the liver function, heart function and to check if the blood counts are normal.
Some of the side effects of this chemotherapy drug are nausea or vomiting, fatigue, constipation and low blood count. Tingling and numbness on the toes and fingers could be experienced by certain patients. During the administration of this drug, the liver function would be monitored quite frequently.
Mitoxantrone disrupts the growth of cancer cells and thus destroys them. This drug like most of the chemotherapy drugs is administered intravenously. Some of the common noticeable symptoms of mitoxantrone include headache, vomiting or nausea, mouth sores and low white blood cell counts. Mitoxantrone is one of those drugs that may damage the heart muscle causing problems in the normal heart functions. The heart function is monitored regularly for any possible ill effect on it.
Dacotaxel is also referred to as Taxotere and is one of the commonly used chemotherapy drug for prostate cancer. According to the studies conducted by the American Cancer Society, docetaxel and steroid prednisone, when used in a combination can relieve the symptoms of prostate cancer and extend the life of the patient. It is taxane based chemotherapy drug that interferes with the cell division by affecting the internal structures of the cancer cells. Docetaxel is administered intravenously and is combined with prednisone to reduce the chances of any possible allergic reactions.
Some of the common side effects of this chemotherapy drug include nausea, fatigue, low blood cell counts, diarrhea, skin rashes and hair loss. Other less common side effect of this drug is peripheral neuropathy or tingling and numbness in toes and fingers.
Estramustine is an alkylating drug that does not disrupt the cell division process of the cancer cells but it kills the cancer cells by stopping the growth of the cancer cells. Estramustine can be administered intravenously or orally. Some of the side effects include dry skin, thinning and breaking of hair, night sweats, fatigue, high blood pressure, nipple tenderness, low libido, erectile dysfunction and breast enlargement.
These were only some of the many chemotherapy drugs used for prostate cancer. Please note that none of the drugs mentioned above should be taken without consulting with the oncologist. Also, do not be overly concerned with the side effects as they may vary from individual to individual based on many factors. These side effects are also reversible with the use of some medication and care.