Coronavirus and cancer

We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help. If you have symptoms of cancer contact your doctor.

Read our information about coronavirus and cancer

Decorative image

Chemotherapy treatment

You might have chemotherapy for advanced prostate cancer. The most common type is docetaxel. 

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 help relieve symptoms, control cancer and improve your quality of life. But it can’t cure cancer.

What chemotherapy will I have?

The most common types of chemotherapy for advanced prostate cancer are:

  • docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • cabazitaxel (Jevtana)

You usually have docetaxel first. You may have this with hormone therapy and steroids. 

And then you might have cabazitaxel if your cancer continues to grow after you've had treatment with docetaxel.

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.

Having chemotherapy

Into your bloodstream

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

You might 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.

Where you have chemotherapy

You usually have treatment into your bloodstream at the cancer day clinic. You might 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 can usually bring a friend or family member with you.

You have some types of chemotherapy over several days. You might be able to have some drugs through a small portable pump that you take home.

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

Your doctors and pharmacists work out your chemotherapy dose based on your blood cell levels, and 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
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • hair loss
Contact your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any signs of infection such as a temperature higher than 37.5C 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