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Prostate Cancer, Advanced or Metastatic - Medications

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.

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 or immunotherapy may be the next choice.

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. Combinations may work better than a single medicine. That's because each drug can attack the cancer cells in a different way. This is most often used when prostate cancer is hormone-resistant.

Immunotherapy is treatment that uses the body's immune system to destroy the cancer cells. This is used for prostate cancer that is hormone-resistant.

Medicine Choices

Hormone therapy

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.


Vaccines such as sipuleucel-T (Provenge) use cells from a man's own body to stimulate his immune system. This can slow the growth of cancer cells.

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:

actionset.gif Cancer: Controlling Cancer Pain.

For more information, see the topic Cancer Pain.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 22, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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