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
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
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:
- Cancer: Controlling Cancer Pain.
For more information, see the topic
Medicines for treating side effects
therapy can cause loss of sexual desire,
hot flashes, enlarged and painful breasts, and
- For men who have erectile problems after surgery, medicines
such as sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), or tadalafil (Cialis) may be
helpful. Using medicines soon after surgery may help men regain sexual function. Talk with your doctor about your situation.
- Taking a temporary break from hormone therapy can make some
side effects go away.
- To relieve breast pain, the anti-estrogen breast cancer
tamoxifen or radiation treatment is commonly used.
Tamoxifen can also help reverse breast growth. It also causes hot
- For hot flashes, taking a certain kind of
antidepressant may help.
Venlafaxine or paroxetine may help with hot flashes. But they have different side effects. So if you are having a problem with hot flashes, talk
with your doctor.
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