When prostate cancer spreads to body parts other than the prostate gland, it is called advanced prostate cancer. When the cancer reaches this stage, there is no complete cure but certain treatment options can help to manage symptoms and extend life. These advanced prostate cancer treatment options not only prolong the life of the patient, but also ensure that his quality of life does not go down.
Treatment for advanced prostate cancer
- Endocrine therapy – The male hormones can enhance the growth of prostate cancer. If the activity and amount of prostate cancer is controlled, the spread of advanced prostate cancer can be slowed down. The first line of treatment for advanced prostate cancer is called androgen ablation, i.e. endocrine therapy. It helps to reduce the tumour size and level of prostate specific antigen (PSA). The PSA is substance secreted by the prostate gland and when present in excess, it indicates prostate cancer. Due to some serious side effects caused by this treatment of prostate cancer such as impotence, weakness in bones and others, it is not preferred for long.
- Chemotherapy – Once hormonal therapy ceases to be effective, chemotherapy has been found to help in extending survival. Chemotherapy can be useful in most cases. It works very well to relieve men from the symptoms. The standard chemo therapy for patients who do not respond well to hormone therapy is the drug docetaxel given along with prednisone. Docetaxel has been shown to improve survival of cancer patients by a few months compared to drugs used earlier such as mitoxantone.
- Immune therapy – A recently developed advanced prostate cancer treatment is a vaccine called Sipuleucel-T (Provenge). It extends the survival of a patient by four months if used before chemotherapy. It involves harvesting of immune cells and genetically engineering it to treat prostate cancer. However, this treatment is not good if the prostate cancer has grown beyond a point. This is because beyond that point, it becomes difficult for the cells of immune system to fight the cancer cells. Sipuleucel-T (Provenge) can work up to a level of cancer spread and after this level, the normal cells can get destroyed leading to many side effects.
- Combination therapy – Radiation therapy for prostate cancer treatment is combined with endocrine therapy for prostate cancer treatment. Studies have shown that patients with prostate cancer that have a high risk respond better to this combination therapy compared to taking each therapy alone.
The advanced prostate cancer treatment given here are useful in extending the lives of patients for some months more. Your doctor would recommend the one that is likely to work best on you.
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