Prostate Cancer Hormone Therapy and Chemotherapy

Men with prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate gland to other organs, who cannot undergo radiation or surgery to remove the prostate, or whose cancer has recurred following surgery or radiation are candidates for hormonal therapy and/or chemotherapy. In some patients these therapies are also given along with radiation or surgery.

Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Hormone therapy is designed to reduce the levels of the male hormones (androgens) that fuel the growth of prostate cancer cells. Doctors reduce hormone levels by either surgically removing the testicles (an orchiectomy), the source of most androgens, or by using drugs that lower or suppress testosterone levels.

Doctors at Columbia Urology are currently evaluating the use of intermittent hormonal therapy to decrease the side effects of hormone deprivation. Common side effects include hot flashes and sweating, swelling of or tenderness in the breasts, trouble sleeping, and impotence or decrease in sex drive. We are also investigating the use of agents that prevent bone loss and reduce the side effects of hormone therapy.

Chemotherapy for Prostate Cancer

For years, chemotherapy was not a promising treatment approach for men with prostate cancer because of its limited effectiveness and side effects. But a number of new therapies are under study in men with advanced disease, and recent studies by Emerson Lim, MD, Division of Oncology in the Department of Medicine demonstrate that prostate cancer may not be as resistant to chemotherapy as once thought. Results of early clinical studies have shown a combination of chemotherapeutic agents to be very effective and well tolerated in men whose prostate cancer is unresponsive to hormonal medications.

Dr. Lim has reported that the use of the chemotherapeutic regimen taxotere/emcyt to treat patients who have failed hormonal therapy achieves an 80% response rate. These medications promise to have a major impact on advanced prostate cancer, particularly in those patients that are unresponsive to commonly used drugs.