Prostate Cancer

Chemotherapy for prostate cancer

Chemotherapy can be used as a treatment option for men with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of their body and is no longer responding to treatment with hormonal therapies (known as hormone-refractory metastatic prostate cancer).

It is used to both to slow down the progression of the cancer prolonging survival and to relieve symptoms, with the aim of prolonging a good quality of life. The chemotherapy drugs are usually given by injection into a vein (intravenously). The most commonly used chemotherapy drug for advanced prostate cancer and the one recommended for use by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is docetaxel (Taxotere®). They recommend up to 10 treatments per patient but treatment should stop if the cancer continues to grow or if they have severe side effects.


Describes his experience of having chemotherapy.

Describes his experience of having chemotherapy.

Age at interview: 72
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 69

Yes, every month I have the full dose of chemotherapy and in the middle of the month a fortnight, the 2 week period, I go back for what they call booster. Now I've had none of those boosters because my blood cells, my white blood cells reading has been very unsatisfactory and that's, they say that's what's been causing my bad breathing etc so they've cancelled that. And then last week they actually cancelled the chemo, the full treatment, the full one because they still were not happy and then I've got to go back again next week, to have more blood tests, to see if I can continue or not. 

So what's it actually like having the chemotherapy?

There is no problem with that, it's just you have two, you have a tube inserted, a needle put in your arm for the tube, and then you have two syringe loads of chemo go in through that which the nurse does, then you have anti sickness put into there as well in the liquid form, you then have another one put in because I'm having what they call a cocktail of chemo, have another one which makes them all join together and then the last one I have is a bag which they do from a drip which I think most people understand is just a bag with a drip which takes about an hour. The main thing is to remember always take a Walkman with you or books or papers because you're there for 5 hours.

And how did that make you feel?

That didn't worry, didn't affect me at all while I was doing that because I can, I'm easy get absorbed in books or listen to the radio or whatever but the side-effects afterwards have been, well horrendous as far as I'm concerned.

Can you say a bit more.

Yes my breathing has got worse and I can only walk 50 metres, sometimes and I just have to stop.

You think that's a result of the chemotherapy?

They say yeah, they say it is, they, they think it is. The last time they think it is but it should've cleared up but they've given me, I've had scans, CCT scans they call it, I've had breathing tests and it shows nothing at all. So I have to wait till next week again for them to see if I have the chemo again or what, whatever they decide.

Did the chemotherapy make you feel sick at all or did the anti sickness drugs work?

No the anti sickness, they give you pills afterwards as well and I had no sickness at all. I've had the breathing and also I think it's affected my digestive system because I get bad stomach pains and headaches. The headache always coincides with the stomach, which is most headaches come from your stomach I believe and they coincide, but the pain in the stomach makes you die, it is bad. But that goes after a couple of hours, it reaches a peak. As far as I'm concerned having the chemo itself, the actual practical side of it there's no problem to it at all, there's no pain or anything.

And have the side-effects of the chemo been about what you expected?

No it's a lot worse than I expected.

Other drugs that may be used, but usually only as part of a clinical trial.

Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated July 2017.
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