Blocking hormones by prostate cancer treatment
Surgery or radiotherapy is often followed up by hormone-blocking prostate cancer treatment. Prostate cancers grow much faster in the presence of the male sex hormone testosterone, so cutting off the supply of this hormone is very effective. In the past, this was achieved by removing the testicles but today it is more likely to be given drugs to reduce the activity of testosterone to almost zero. Anti-androgens block the activity of progesterone, preventing it binding to cancer cells while pituitary down regulators block the production of testosterone by acting on the brain.
There are different approaches to using hormone blocking drugs in prostate cancer treatment, depending on the stage of the prostate cancer:
In either case, the hormone blocking drugs can be given continually, sometimes for a period of years, or intermittently. You have this kind of prostate cancer treatment for a few months, and then have a break before restarting. Clinical trials have now shown that both strategies are equally effective – it comes down to a decision made by your doctor and you depending on your circumstances.
Advanced prostate cancer treatment
Using a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and hormone blocking prostate cancer treatments usually keeps prostate cancer in check for many years. PSA levels are still monitored regularly and in some men, this rises despite active hormone blocking treatment. This is a sign that the prostate cancer has advanced and moved out of the prostate, commonly forming metastases in bones and in the soft tissues in the abdomen. More aggressive prostate cancer treatment is then necessary.
The chemotherapy drug docetaxel was the first to be approved for used in advanced prostate cancer after clinical trials completed in 2004 showed it improved survival. In the late spring of 2010, another chemotherapy drug, carbazitaxel was approved as a follow up prostate cancer treatment in men who don’t respond to docetaxel.