Chemotherapy according to Cancer types
Chemotherapy for Prostate Cancer
Chemotherapy (chemo) uses anticancer drugs that are injected into a vein or administered by mouth. These drugs travel through the bloodstream in most parts of the body to kill cancer cells.
When is Chemotherapy used?
Chemo is often used when Prostate Cancer has spread beyond the gland of the prostate and Hormone therapy does not function. Recent work has also shown that if given along with hormone therapy, Chemotherapy may be effective. Chemo is however not a standard treatment for early Prostate Cancer.
Chemo drugs used to treat prostate cancer
For prostate cancer, chemo drugs are typically used one at a time. Some of the chemo drugs used to treat Prostate Cancer include:
In most cases, the first chemo drug given is docetaxel, combined with the steroid drug prednisone. If this does not work (or stops working), cabazitaxel is often the next chemo drug tried (although there may be other treatment options as well).
Docetaxel and cabazitaxel have been shown to help men live longer, on average, than older chemo drugs. They may slow the cancer’s growth and reduce symptoms, resulting in a better quality of life. Still, chemo is very unlikely to cure Prostate Cancer.
Other chemo drugs being studied for use in Prostate Cancer include carboplatin, oxaliplatin, and cisplatin.
Possible side effects of chemotherapy
Chemo drugs target rapidly dividing cells and thus they function against cancer cells. But other cells in the body, such as those in the bone marrow (where new blood cells are made), mouth and intestine lining, and hair follicles, divide rapidly as well. Chemo can also damage these cells, and this can lead to side effects.
Chemo’s side effects depend on the type and dose of drugs given, and how long they are used. Could include some common side effects:
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased chance of infections (from having too few white blood cells)
- Easy bruising or bleeding (from having too few blood platelets)
- Fatigue (from having too few red blood cells)
Typically, these side effects go away until treatment is done. Those side effects are also reduced.
Along with the above risks, other side effects of other chemo drugs are more commonly seen. For instance:
Docetaxel and cabazitaxel also cause severe allergic reactions. Medicines are given to help avoid this before each procedure. These medications can also affect the nerves (known as peripheral neuropathy), which can cause symptoms of numbness, tingling, or burning in the hands and feet.
Very rarely, mitoxantrone may cause leukaemia some years later.
The risk of blood clots increases with estramustine.
When you experience any side effects when undergoing chemo report them to the cancer care team for prompt treatment. In certain cases, chemo drug doses may need to be reduced, or therapy may need to be postponed or halted to prevent the symptoms from getting worse.