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Oak Hill Hospital
Pediatric Emergency Care Center

Medications for Prostate Cancer -- Hormonal Therapy

The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.

The type of treatment you will have will depend on the stage of the cancer, the size of the tumor, your age, and overall condition. The main prescription drug therapies used to treat prostate cancer are hormonal therapies.

Hormonal Therapy

Prostate cells need male hormones, called androgens, to grow and work properly. The aim of hormonal therapy is to reduce the amount of male hormones in your body so that prostate cells are not stimulated to grow. The most effective hormonal therapy is to undergo surgery to remove the testes (orchiectomy). This is effective surgery, but it is irreversible. Often hormonal therapies are combined to achieve greater effects.

Different types of hormonal therapies include:

Luteinizing Hormone-releasing Hormone (LHRH) Analogs

Common names include:

  • Leuprolide
  • Goserelin

These medications decrease the production of the male hormone, testosterone, from the testicles. These medications are given by injection into a muscle every few months.

Possible side effects include:


Common names include:

  • Flutamide
  • Bicalutamide
  • Nilutamide

Anti-androgens prevent your body from using androgens. Possible side effects include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Breast growth or tenderness—gynecomastia
  • Change in sexual ability or desire
Androgen Suppressants

Common name: ketoconazole

Ketoconazole blocks the production of androgens. It is considered a second-line hormonal treatment. It may be used when other medications are not working.

Possible side effects include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Liver problems
  • Itchy skin

Newer Hormonal Therapies


Common name: abiraterone

Abiraterone works by blocking an enzyme that is needed to make testosterone. The drug affects the ability of the testes and body tissue from making this male hormone.

Possible side effects include:


Common name: enzalutamide

This medication has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for men that have late-stage prostate cancer that has not responded to other treatments. Enzalutamide, a type of anti-antigen, prevents your body from using androgens.

Possible side effects include:

  • Weakness
  • Back pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain

Special Considerations

If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:

  • Take the medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medication.
  • Plan ahead for refills if you need them.
  • Do not share your prescription medication with anyone.
  • Drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor if you are taking more than one drug, including over-the-counter products and supplements.

Revision Information

  • About hormone therapy for prostate cancer. Cancer Research UK website. Available at: Accessed October 2, 2015.

  • Adrogen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated July 8, 2015. Accessed October 2, 2015.

  • Angiogenesis inhibitors. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Accessed October 2, 2015.

  • Chemo & targeted therapy. Texas Oncology website. Available at: Accessed October 2, 2015.

  • Prostate cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed October 2, 2015.

  • Prostate cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated November 2013. Accessed October 2, 2015.

  • Study: new drug enzalutamide extends life in advanced prostate cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed October 2, 2015.

  • 2/12/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Smith DP, King MT, Egger S, et al. Quality of life three years after diagnosis of localised prostate cancer: population based cohort study. BMJ. 2009;339:b4817.