Hormone-Refractory Prostate Cancer
or Castrate-Resistant Prostate Cancer
Treating Maintaining Quality of Life
Side Effects and Symptoms Management
In order to maintain a good quality of life when undergoing treatment for HRPC, it is necessary to learn how to control symptoms and lessen the impact of side effects.
Here you will find information about a few of the many topics on side effects and symptoms management -- and at the bottom are links to websites that provide additional information.
Anxiety. One patient's suggestions on how to deal with anxiety. There are also links to some other resources.
Blood Clots. Since cancer patients have a high risk for blood-clots(DVTs and PEs), a thorough reading of Blood Clots: A Common, but Dangerous, Side Effect of Cancer is recommended.
Bones. You should first of all make sure you are maintaining your bone integrity. Spinal cord compression, broken bones and pain are serious side effects of bone metastases. See the paper on bone integrity for more information on maintaining your bone integrity.
Bisphosphonates (Zometa, Aredia, Fosamax, Actonel) play a key role in maintaining bone integrity. Zometa has been shown to delay the onset of skeletal related events and may even prevent or delay the establishment of bone metastases and help you with bone pain. See the ONJ page for information on this side effect.
Chemotherapy - Taxotere. Many of the side effects of chemotherapy are covered under other headings on this page. Ludwick Papaurelis has created a PDF document with a list of side effects that affected him or that he was aware of, but avoided. Most relate to every 3 week taxotere, 75mg/m2. Ludwick's writeup is in DRAFT form at present. A few anecdotal reports on taxotere side effects are here.
Depression(Distress) Depression can sap your will to continue the fight. There are many drugs that help alleviate depression. An article in Cure magazine on depression also has links to a page that describes these drugs. Go to www.curetoday.com and look for the Summer 2004 issue (vol. 3, number 2). The drugs described are called "Mood Elevators." A table based on the Cure Magazine article is also at Depression (Distress) There are also links to the NCCN guidelines on "Distress."
Fatigue. Fatigue is an insidious, terrible side effect that also reduces our quality of life. Your treatments can increase your fatigue as can just having cancer. Just how do you describe fatigue when discussing this with your oncologist? Describing fatigue isn't easy -- words such as, "I feel tired, weak, exhausted, weary, worn-out, heavy or slow" come to mind. Your doctor may use terms like asthenia, fatigue, lassitude, prostration, exercise intolerance, lack of energy, and weakness to describe fatigue. Whatever the description, your feelings are real. See the fatigue page for more information.
Mouth Sores - Changes of Taste (mucositis.) Several suggestions ranging from low tech to high tech(prescription drugs) exist for treating or preventing this side effect.
Pain. No one should have to suffer pain is often heard by those patients suffering from pain -- yet the truth is that cancer pain cannot always be relieved completely and relief amounts only to a lessening of pain in most patients. Just by lessening pain, however, your quality of life can improve. Flexibility in management of cancer pain is important as is a willingness to experiment and find something that helps you.
Peripheral Neuropathy. Abbreviated P/N. Covered here are skin and nail toxicities, peripheral neuropathy (pain, tingling, numbness), and the use of glutamine and other options for preventing these toxicties. There is also some information on dealing with pain caused by P/N.
Other Side Effects of Treatment
Kidney Failure - Kidney failure might occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the ureter which goes from the kidney to the bladder is squeezed closed by metastatic disease -- tumor masses large enough to impinge on the tube and close it. One solution to this is to insert a stent (done by an urologist). These are like flexible straws with holes in them and they are usually changed about every 6 months. To see a photograph of a stent, click here.
Lymphedema. This is the buildup of lymph fluid in the bodies tissues that results in swelling. The arms, legs, genital area, and trunk area may become swollen.
Nausea and Vomiting (anti-emetics). With today's availability of anti-emetic drugs, experiencing nausea and vomiting should be a thing of the past.
Other Treatments to Consider
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective for chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting in randomized clinical trials. Further, research studies suggest acupuncture may be helpful in managing cancer-related pain, chemotherapy-related neutropenia, cancer fatigue, and radiation-induced xerostomia.
See W Lu, E Dean-Clower, A Doherty-Gilman, DS Rosenthal, The Value of Acupuncture in Cancer Care, Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2008 Aug 1;22(4):631-648 for more information.
In addition to the pages on this web site, there are a great number of other sources available to help you deal with the side effects of prostate cancer and to help you manage these symptoms. Remember, the goal here is to improve your quality of life while undergoing treatment and after treatment.
Author: Howard Hansen, updated 4 May 2008.
This information related to HRPCa, AIPC, and/or CRPC is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of this website is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2001-2013 Howard Hansen and/or HRPCa Association, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Our policy regarding privacy, right to reprint and contact information are at About Us. We are a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity.