Chemotherapy incorporates the use of one or several anti-cancer fighting drugs intended to moderate or completely halt the development of cancerous cells in the prostate gland. In instances of recurrent or advanced prostate cancer when hormone treatment has been ineffective a doctor will recommend chemotherapy as the next stage in treatment. Chemotherapy treatment is administered in cycles with a period of recuperation that follows after treatment. The duration of chemotherapy treatment can range anywhere from 3 to 6 months, but is contingent on the specific types of medications that are given. Chemotherapy medications are generally administered intravenously (into the vein) or are taken orally by the patient . Once the medication(s) has been absorbed it will enter the bloodstream where it will travel to the site of the cancer or reach cancerous cells that have spread beyond the prostate. Some of the most commonly used chemotherapy drugs include:
- Docetaxel (Taxotere)
- Paclitaxel (Taxol)
Side Effects Of Treatment
Side effects of chemotherapy will depend on a variety of factors such as the kinds of drugs that are being administered, the amount of medication(s) used and the individual response to the medication(s). Amongst patients side effects of chemotherapy will vary as different medications will have different side effects making it difficult to determine what a patient can expect. Chemotherapy however does have common side effects associated with treatment which include:
- Hair loss
- Infertility (Potentially permanent)
- Mouth sores
- Loss of appetite
Fatigue is perhaps the most common side effect of patients undergoing chemotherapy and may even continue for several months after the treatment has concluded. Recovery time for chemotherapy will vary among patients but will depend mostly on variables related to the patient’s overall health and the amount of chemotherapy that was given.
Dealing With Side Effects
There is a considerable amount of things that can be done to minimize side effects of chemotherapy. Good communication with your doctor or nurse is imperative towards coping with any potential symptoms you may encounter with treatment. Ask questions specifically about the most common side effects associated with the chemotherapy drug you will be taking. As soon as side effects begin to manifest contact them immediately and be as descriptive as possible. Early intervention will help greatly in relieving and managing your side effects throughout the course of your treatment.