Chemotherapy for Prostate Cancer

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill prostate cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body.

Chemotherapy may be used:

  • When prostate cancer is found outside of the prostate
  • When other treatment methods fail
  • To help ease problems of cancer that's spread and help with living longer

Chemotherapy Drugs and Delivery

For prostate cancer, chemotherapy drugs and are mainly given one at a time rather than mixing them with others. The most common are:

  • Docetaxel—most commonly used first
  • Cabazitaxel
  • Mixtoxantrone
  • Estramustine

Chemotherapy is given by IV. IV chemotherapy is delivered in cycles over a set period. Your doctor will help find out how many cycles are needed and which drugs will work best.

Side Effects and Management

Drugs are made to kill cancer, but they also harm healthy cells. The death of cancer cells and impact on healthy cells can cause a range of problems. The most common are:

  • Feeling tired because of anemia
  • Loss of hunger
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Low numbers of white blood cells or platelets that lead to infection or bleeding
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Problems with thinking clearly
  • Hair loss

There are many ways to control problems. In some cases, the drugs can be changed to lessen how they make you feel. The earlier these problems are brought up to your doctor, the more likely they will be controlled.


Chemotherapy for prostate cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Updated March 11, 2016. Accessed October 26, 2018.
Prostate cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated October 16, 2018. Accessed October 26, 2018.
Prostate cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated October 2017. Accessed October 26, 2018.
Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Updated October 12, 2018. Accessed October 26, 2018.
What is chemotherapy? Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: Accessed October 26, 2018.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 10/26/2018

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