Other Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

Other Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer

Other, less common treatment options for prostate cancer are:Man researching prostate cancer treatment options

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy treatment
  • Bone-directed treatment


Chemotherapy (chemo) uses drugs to stop cancer cells from growing. The drugs can be injected into a vein or taken as pills. They enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body.

When to Consider Chemo

Chemo for prostate cancer may be appropriate:

  • For prostate cancer that has spread outside the prostate when hormone therapy isn’t working
  • Along with hormone therapy

Side Effects of Chemo

Side effects of chemo include:

  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased chance of infections
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Fatigue

Immunotherapy Treatment

The cancer vaccine Sipuleucel-T (Provenge) attacks prostate cancer cells by boosting the immune system.

When to Consider Vaccine Treatment

Provenge is used for advanced prostate cancer when hormone therapy isn’t working and the cancer is causing few or no symptoms.

Side Effects of Vaccine Treatment

Side effects of Provenge include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Back and joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Problems breathing
  • High blood pressure

Bone-Directed Treatment

When prostate cancer grows outside the prostate, it usually affects the bones. Bone-directed treatment helps prevent cancer from spreading to the bones, slows this spread, and/or relieves pain and other problems.

Drugs used in bone-directed treatment include:

  • Bisphosphonates, drugs that slow down osteoclasts, bone cells that often become overactive when prostate cancer spreads. Zoledronic acid (Zometa) is the most common bisphosphonate used for prostate cancer.
  • Denosumab (Xgeva, Prolia) also blocks osteoclasts, but it works in a different way than bisphosphonates.
  • Corticosteroids , drugs that relieve for inflammation and pain. Typically used in combination with other drugs.
  • Radiopharmaceuticals, drugs that contain radioactive elements.

External beam radiation therapy and pain medicines can also be used to treat pain from cancer in the bones.

When to Consider Bone-Directed Treatment

Bone-directed treatment for prostate cancer is used:

  • For prostate cancer that has spread outside the prostate and could spread to the bones
  • For prostate cancer that has already spread to the bones

Side Effects of Bone-Directed Treatment

Side effects of bisphosphonates include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Kidney problems
  • Rarely: Tooth loss and jaw bone infection

Side effects of denosumab include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Rarely: Tooth loss and jaw bone infection

The major side effect of radiopharmaceuticals is:

  • Increased risk for infections or bleeding

Common Treatments for Prostate Cancer

Common treatments for prostate cancer include:

  • Active surveillance (also called watchful waiting)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery
  • Targeted focal cryotherapy (also called cryosurgery)
  • Hormone therapy

Read more about these common treatments for prostate cancer.

Treatments by Stage of Prostate Cancer

The stage of your prostate cancer describes how much cancer is in the body and helps predict how quickly the cancer will grow and spread. Doctors use this information to determine the best treatment for you.

Learn more about how chemotherapy, vaccine treatment, and bone-directed treatment are used for different stages of prostate cancer.

Start with an Accurate Diagnosis

Figuring out the best treatment for you depends on accurately staging your cancer. New prostate cancer biomarker tests and our 3D prostate biopsy are the most accurate way to stage prostate cancer.