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When Your Prostate Cancer Treatment Isn't Working

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If you have advanced prostate cancer, your doctor might provide palliative treatments, which relieve symptoms and make you more comfortable.

Palliative care doesn't cure prostate cancer. But your doctor may recommend it along with your cancer-fighting drugs.

If you get some of the following symptoms, palliative treatments can help ease them. Here's how.

Pain

Prostate cancer that has spread to the bones is a common source of pain during the advanced stages. Some ways to relieve it are:

Pain drugs. These include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen for mild pain
  • For severe pain, medicines like fentanyl patches, methadone (Dolophine), and oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs for nerve-related pain

Physical treatments. These include:

  • Massage
  • Ice
  • Heat packs
  • Acupuncture

Chemotherapy or targeted radiation might help shrink a painful tumor.

Surgery can relieve pressure on the spine from a tumor.

Anxiety and Depression

With advanced prostate cancer, you might feel worried, depressed, and afraid. Consider these options:

  • Talk with a therapist or counselor.
  • Join a support group.
  • Take anxiety and antidepressant medications.

Fatigue

Many things can cause fatigue when you have advanced prostate cancer. You might not feel like eating, which can make you feel weak and tired. Pain, depression, and many of the drugs you take can also make you fatigued.

Some ways to fight it include:

  • Supplement shakes to boost your nutrition
  • Stimulant drugs, such as methylphenidate, if your doctor prescribes them
  • Planning your activities for times you think you'll have energy for them
  • Steps to treat nausea and other problems that keep you from eating
  • Exercise, which gives you energy
  • A cane or wheelchair to help you move around more easily

Bladder Problems

Surgery and radiation for prostate cancer might make it hard for some men to hold their urine. These steps might help you hold it:

  • Do Kegel exercises to strengthen your lower pelvic muscles. A physical therapist can teach you how to do these simple moves.
  • Visit the restroom on a regular schedule.
  • Drink less fluid, especially at night.
  • Stay away from caffeine and alcohol.
  • Ask your doctor about surgery to help your urinary tract hold fluid better.

Prostate cancer might also block the flow of urine from your bladder. A catheter -- a tube inserted into your bladder that lets urine drain out -- can fix this problem. So can a surgery called TURP, in which a doctor removes tissue from the prostate through the penis.

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