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NONSURGICAL TREATMENTS FOR PROSTATE CANCER: CHEMOTHERAPY

Chemotherapy involves the use of powerful drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs circulate throughout the body in the bloodstream and kill any rapidly growing cells, including healthy ones. To destroy cancer cells while minimizing the harm to healthy ones, the drugs are carefully controlled in dosage and frequency.

There are many different chemotherapy drugs, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Often the drugs are used in combination.

Since the chemotherapy drugs circulate throughout the body and affect healthy as well as cancerous cells, they produce many side effects. These include hair loss, nausea, fatigue, pain, vomiting, diarrhea, reduced ability of the blood to clot, and an increased risk of infection. Most of the side effects disappear when the treatment is stopped.

The use of chemotherapy in treating prostate cancer is largely limited to stage D, when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy drugs do not work well in many men with prostate cancer, and therefore they are rarely recommended as routine treatment. If all else fails with other treatments, chemotherapy will be used to slow the growth of the disease.

Chemotherapy is more commonly used to treat other types of cancers by stopping or slowing their growth and relieving the symp-toms. Cancers that have been successfully "cured" with chemotherapy include testicular cancers, certain leukemias, and lymphomas.

One problem of using conventional chemotherapy methods to treat prostate cancer is that patients are usually elderly and have other medical problems and are therefore unable to tolerate chemotherapy in efficient doses. Chemotherapeutic drugs, conventionally administered, are most successfully used in patients who are younger and healthy.

One major problem inherent in chemotherapy is that many of the highly potent drags used do not reach the bloodstream effectively.

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Men's Health Erectile Dysfunction