Background: Both the demographics and treatment of hormone-refractory prostate cancer (HRPC) are changing. Patients are younger and healthier, with fewer comorbidities. The "no treatment until symptoms" approach is disappearing. Chemotherapy is increasingly being utilized.
Methods: The authors review the steps involved in hormone management before chemotherapy is considered. The roles for chemotherapy in current clinical trials are examined.
Results: Effective hormonal management of the prostate cancer patient incorporates an understanding of the stages of hormone sensitivity and prescribing additional interventions beyond simple castration. Once hormone refractoriness is established, the combination of mitoxantrone and prednisone has become a standard chemotherapeutic approach. New agents such as docetaxel are being tested in phase III trials against mitoxantrone plus prednisone.
Conclusions: HRPC is now regarded as a chemotherapy-sensitive tumor. The goals of chemotherapy in HRPC are to decrease PSA level and improve quality of life. New agents and combinations are needed to improve survival.