This page discusses the use of chemotherapy for the treatment of prostate cancer. For a thorough review of chemotherapy, please see the chemotherapy treatment monograph .

Cancer chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Unlike radiation and surgery, which are localized treatments, chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, meaning the drugs travel throughout the whole body. This means chemotherapy can reach cancer cells that may have spread, or metastasized, to other areas.

To date, chemotherapy has not been used in the standard management of prostate cancer. There are several ongoing clinical trials throughout the United States that are investigating whether chemotherapy can help patients who have a recurrence of prostate cancer after surgery, radiation therapy, or hormonal therapy, or whose cancer seems to be resistant to hormonal treatment. Some studies have suggested that chemotherapy can improve symptoms in patients with advanced prostate cancer, but to date no improvements in survival have been seen.

If chemotherapy is used to treat prostate cancer, the drugs may be given singly or in combination. A variety of chemotherapy drugs are being used for resistant or recurrent forms of prostate cancer:

  • Prednisone
  • Adriamycin
  • Mitoxantrone
  • Paclitaxel
  • Docetaxel
  • Vinblastine
  • Cytoxan
  • Estramustine

Most patients receive chemotherapy as an outpatient at their doctor’s office or at a chemotherapy treatment center at a hospital. Some drugs may be taken by mouth at home; others may be given through intravenous or intramuscular injection. Side effects of chemotherapy agents are specific to the particular drugs or combinations of drugs being given.

For more information on chemotherapy, including how to manage the side effects, please see the chemotherapy treatment monograph .