Chemotherapy for locally advanced prostate cancer

Chemotherapy is occasionally used as one of the treatments for locally advanced prostate cancer. It is given in addition to hormonal treatment.

What is chemotherapy for locally advanced prostate cancer?

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. Your doctor will explain if chemotherapy is a suitable treatment for you. This depends on the risk of the cancer coming back. Your doctor looks at the stage and grade of the cancer to work this out. It may be given if:

Doctors find out your PSA level using a PSA test. When used with other tests, a PSA test can help doctors diagnose prostate cancer. Your Gleason score helps doctors find out how quickly cancer cells may grow or spread. This is known as grading.

Chemotherapy may be given with hormonal therapy for prostate cancer before starting radiotherapy for prostate cancer. Chemotherapy usually begins within 12 weeks of starting hormonal therapy. Radiotherapy will start when you have recovered from your chemotherapy and when the PSA in your blood has fallen to a very low level.

You need to be well enough to cope with the side effects of chemotherapy. It may be more suitable if you are younger and have no other health problems.

You and your doctor can talk about the possible benefits and disadvantages before you make a decision. We have information about making treatment decisions to help you think about your treatment options.

Having chemotherapy for locally-advanced prostate cancer

The chemotherapy is given into a vein (intravenously). Find out more about how chemotherapy is given.

The drug gets into the blood and can reach cancer cells all over the body. The drug that is used is called docetaxel (Taxotere®). You usually have docetaxel every 3 weeks for 6 sessions.

Side effects

Your doctor or nurse will explain the most common and serious side effects of docetaxel (Taxotere®). They will tell you how they can be treated or managed. Always tell them about your side effects.

Some common side effects of docetaxel include:

  • risk of infection
  • bruising and bleeding
  • anaemia (low blood count).

Most side effects stop or slowly go away when chemotherapy finishes. We have more information about the side effects of docetaxel.

Follow-up after treatment

After treatment for locally advanced prostate cancer, you will have regular check-ups and doctors will monitor your PSA level. Find out more about follow-up after prostate cancer treatment.

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    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editors, Dr Jim Barber, Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Dr Ursula McGovern, Consultant Medical Oncologist.

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