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Chemotherapy treatment

Find out about chemotherapy for advanced prostate cancer and how you have it.

Advanced prostate cancer is a cancer that began in the prostate and has spread to another part of the body.

What is chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs circulate throughout the body in the bloodstream.

Aim of chemotherapy

Chemotherapy for advanced prostate cancer can relieve symptoms. It can also control the cancer and improve your quality of life for a time, but it can’t cure the cancer.

Types of chemotherapy

The common types of chemotherapy for advanced prostate cancer are:
  • docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • cabazitaxel (Jevtana)
  • mitoxantrone
  • estramustine (Estracyt)

How you have chemotherapy

Into your bloodstream

You have it through a drip into your arm. A nurse puts a small tube (a cannula) into one of your veins and connects the drip to it.

You may need a central line. This is a long plastic tube that gives the drugs into a large vein, either in your chest or through a vein in your arm. It stays in while you’re having treatment, which may be for a few months.

You have estramustine as a tablet.

You must take tablets according to the instructions your doctor or pharmacist gives you.

Whether you have a full or empty stomach can affect how much of a drug gets into your bloodstream.

You should take the right dose, not more or less. Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.

Where you have chemotherapy

You usually have treatment at the cancer day clinic. You’ll sit in a chair for a few hours so it’s a good idea to take newspapers, books or electronic devices to help to pass the time.

You have some types of chemotherapy over several days. You may be able to have it through a pump that you can go home with.

For some types of chemotherapy you have to stay in a hospital ward. This could be overnight or for a couple of days.

Before you start chemotherapy

You need to have blood tests to make sure it’s safe to start treatment. You have these either a few days before or on the day you start treatment. You have blood tests before each round or cycle of treatment.

The pharmacists make chemotherapy for each person individually. They do this once your blood test results have come through and it’s worked out based on your weight, height and general health.

Side effects

Common chemotherapy side effects include:

  • feeling sick
  • loss of appetite
  • losing weight
  • feeling very tired
  • a lower resistance to infections
  • bleeding and bruising easily
Contact the doctor or nurse immediately if you have any signs of infection such as a temperature higher than 38C or generally feeling unwell. Infections can make you very unwell very quickly.

Side effects depend on:

  • which drugs you have
  • how much of each drug you have
  • how you react

Tell your treatment team about any side effects that you have.

Information and help

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.​