Many of us think that chemotherapy for prostate cancer only involves the use of Taxotere. Just for the sake of accuracy, I want to clarify that almost every drug we take to treat prostate cancer is chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy drugs are the drugs that are designed to kill cells. All of the drugs used as a part of a hormone blockade are designed to directly or indirectly kill cancer cells. Thus, even a hormone blockade is chemotherapy.

Why, in the prostate cancer world, do we not acknowledge that chemotherapy is much broader than only Taxotere? The very words chemotherapy causes many of us to shake in our boots. We automatically think of chemo as causing great suffering and wasting. In some situations, it does, but in today’s world, we have in fact learned to control and suppress many of the worse side effects.

When hearing the words chemotherapy, I automatically remember my grandmother who was devastated by the chemotherapy she was given for melanoma. I have a very clear picture of a beaten old women who ended her life with all the pain and suffering her cancer caused along with the pain and suffering brought about by her doctor’s chemotherapy.

Today, in many cases, chemotherapy (Taxotere) as well as the hormone blockades we go on can have their side effects moderated. Chemotherapy still has the connotations of terrible treatments with guaranteed terrible suffering, but this is no longer accurate.

It is important for you to work with a very knowledgeable medical oncologist who specializes in the treatment of prostate cancer. This is the only way to be sure that you receive the best treatment with the best methods to reduce the negative side effects of all chemotherapys (hormone blockade and taxotere).

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW