As a rule, chemotherapy is used in patients with castration-resistant prostate carcinoma, i. e. if the tumour continues to progress during hormone therapy despite suppressed androgens (male sex hormones). Drugs, known as cytostatic drugs (cell toxins), are administered to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and thus delay the progression of the disease.
Procedure of chemotherapy
Today, chemotherapy can usually be performed on an outpatient basis and with mild side effects. The patient receives an infusion of the cytostatic agent every three weeks for about one hour. Accompanying drugs are prescribed in advance to prevent or alleviate side effects. Chemotherapy is usually carried out over four to six cycles. The disease is then controlled by means of PSA, ultrasound and, if necessary, MRT/CT and bone scintigraphy.
Combination of hormone treatment and chemotherapy
Current studies show that in some cases it makes sense to start chemotherapy at an early stage and combine it with hormone treatment. The combination is primarily used in younger men with very aggressive and fast-growing tumours. It can keep the disease in check, prolong its lifetime and alleviate the symptoms caused by illness.
Chemotherapy with docetaxel (Taxotere®) remains the standard treatment for patients with castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer. Docetaxel interferes with cell division and thus inhibits the growth of cancer cells. However, if the cytostatic agent leads to a further progression of the disease, these patients are given another cytostatic agent with the active ingredient cabacitaxel (Jevtana®).