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What Are the Different Types of Prostate Cancer Drugs?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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In some cases, prostate cancer drugs, including hormone replacement and chemotherapy medications, are used in an effort to combat this potentially devastating illness. Hormone replacement treatment is the most commonly used drug therapy for this type of cancer, and several types of hormone replacement drugs are available. Some of these types of prostate cancer drugs include antiandrogens, luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists, and estrogen. Other hormone replacement medications help to prevent the adrenal glands from producing androgens at all. Any questions or concerns about the use of prostate cancer drugs in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Antiandrogens are commonly used as prostate cancer drugs. These medications block the actions of specific hormones known as androgens. When treating prostate cancer, the androgen that is targeted is the male hormone known as testosterone. By blocking testosterone production, the growth of the tumor may be significantly slowed. Antiandrogen medications may be used alone, although they are usually combined with other types of hormone replacement drugs or with radiation therapy.

Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists are used to prevent the pituitary gland from producing luteinizing hormone, also referred to as LH. These medications reduce testosterone by as much as 95 percent. The use of these medications is sometimes called chemical castration. The role of luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists is to slow the growth of prostate cancer, and in many cases the growth of the tumor may temporarily stop completely.

Estrogen, a natural hormone produced primarily in females, may sometimes be used as a prostate cancer drug. Synthetic estrogen is used more often than natural estrogen when treating disease processes in men. The goal of this type of medication is to slow testosterone production by tricking the body into thinking that the estrogen is actually testosterone. Due to the potential negative side effects of estrogen in males, this form of treatment is not used as often as other prostate cancer drugs.

In addition to hormone replacement therapy, chemotherapy medications are sometimes used as prostate cancer drugs. Chemotherapy drugs are very strong medications that contain chemicals designed to destroy cancer cells and slow the progression of the disease. This treatment option is generally used as a last resort in advanced stages of prostate cancer due to the severity of some of the side effects. In addition to destroying harmful cancer cells, chemotherapy drugs can also destroy healthy cells and have devastating effects on the overall health of the patient.

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