Common medications for prostate cancer include abiraterone (Zytiga), flutamide (Eulexin), and nilutamide (Nilandron). Treatment types include hormone therapy or chemotherapy.
Different types of treatments work on the body in different ways. All have benefits but may also cause side effects that can vary in severity.
This article discusses the different types of medications doctors can prescribe for people with prostate cancer and how they affect the body. It also explains some side effects, treatment types, and more.
Doctors usually recommend medications for people whose prostate cancer spreads to other areas. They refer to this as metastatic, or advanced, prostate cancer.
|Medication||Treatment type||How to take||Possible side effects|
|hormone therapy for metastatic prostate cancer||oral tablet||• joint pain or swelling|
• groin pain
• hot flashes
for metastatic cancer
|intravenous injection (IV)||• anemia|
• increased risk of infection
• hair loss
|chemotherapy for metastatic cancer that is not responding to docetaxel||IV||• increased risk of infection|
• severe allergic reaction
• breathing difficulties
|hormone therapy for metastatic cancer||oral tablet||• liver damage|
• hot flashes
• low libido
|radiopharmaceutical for metastatic prostate cancer||injection||• mouth sores|
|hormone therapy for metastatic cancer||oral tablet||• hot flashes|
• flu-like symptoms
|radiopharmaceutical for metastatic prostate cancer that has spread to the bones||injection||• mouth sores|
• breathing difficulties
• swollen glands
|targeted therapy for metastatic cancer||oral tablet||• nausea |
• mouth sores
• nasal congestion
|immunotherapy for metastatic prostate cancer||injection||• uncontrollable shaking|
• joint pain
• difficulty swallowing
Other medications approved for prostate cancer include:
Doctors may recommend postponing treatment until the cancer progresses, or they may suggest that the person takes medication immediately.
Some of the different treatments are as follows.
Prostate cancer cells need testosterone to grow.
Hormone therapy works by stopping the person’s body from producing testosterone or blocking it from the cancer cells. Male hormones are called androgens, and this treatment is also known as androgen deprivation therapy.
Medications that stop the person’s body from producing androgens include:
- leuprolide acetate (Eligard)
- triptorelin (Trelstar)
- abiraterone (Zytiga)
Medications that block prostate cancer cells are known as antiandrogens. These work by blocking the androgen receptors in the prostate cancer cells.
Without androgens, the cancer cells cannot grow. Examples of these medications include flutamide (Eulexin) and nilutamide (Nilandron).
Chemotherapy medications interfere with the way the cancer cells grow, and may slow down their life cycle. While this probably will not cure a person’s prostate cancer, it can improve their quality of life and enable them to live longer.
Doctors often prescribe docetaxel (Taxotere) IV as the first chemotherapy medication. If this does not achieve the desired result, they may suggest cabazitaxel (Jevtana), also by IV.
Chemotherapy medications for prostate cancer in an oral tablet form include estramustine (Emcyt).
Targeted therapies interfere with the proteins that control how cancer cells grow, multiply, and spread. Doctors
These medications include rucaparib (Rubraca) and olaparib (Lynparza), which people take in tablet form.
Immunotherapy is a
With sipuleucel-T (Provenge), doctors collect some immune cells from the person they are treating and mix them with a protein from the prostate cancer cells called prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP).
This infusion makes a vaccine unique to each person that stimulates their immune system to attack the cancer cells.
Doctors give 3 doses of the vaccine, each 2 weeks apart.
Radiopharmaceuticals are medications that contain some radioactive elements. Doctors inject them into the person’s body.
Lutetium Lu 177 vipivotide tetraxetan (Pluvicto) works if the person’s prostate cancer has a specific protein called prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA).
Doctors prescribe this medication in up to 6 doses, with each injection up to 6 weeks apart.
Doctors may prescribe other radiopharmaceuticals if the prostate cancer has spread to the person’s bones. These include radium-223 (Xofigo) and strontium-89 (Mestastron).
According to the
To help keep the bones healthy, doctors may prescribe IV bisphosphonates, such as zoledronic acid (Zometa) and clodronate (Bonefos).
Many cancer treatments cause some unpleasant side effects, but doctors can recommend therapies to reduce these.
It is advisable for people to discuss potential side effects and ways to minimize them with a doctor before starting treatments.
Most people experience constipation, nausea, and fatigue as side effects of their treatments. People having chemotherapy
Doctors can usually recommend treatments to counteract these issues. The
Mental health support
Not all side effects are physical, and some people undergoing prostate cancer treatment may feel anxious or depressed. Doctors can recommend counseling, and additional medications, to help people overcome these feelings.
This section answers common questions about prostate cancer medications.
Are there any medications that can cause prostate cancer?
In 2018, the
5-ARIs include finasteride (Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart), which doctors prescribe for people with enlarged prostates or sometimes male pattern baldness.
Can medications prevent prostate cancer?
The NCI also notes that most people taking these medications experience unwanted side effects, including reduced sexual desire and erectile dysfunction.
People with prostate cancer have various medications available to prolong and improve the quality of their lives. Different treatments work in different ways, and doctors may recommend them for different stages of prostate cancer.
While all medications can have potential side effects, not everyone experiences these, and doctors can often prescribe remedies to alleviate symptoms.