Prostate is a walnut-like shaped and sized gland present in men’s reproductive system. It is located below the bladder, near the rectum and around the urethra, and its main function is to produce a fluid that combines with sperm and makes semen more liquid. As men get older, diseases of the prostate become more common. Among them is prostate cancer, which is diagnosed in about 180,890 new people and kills about 27,540 people every year in the US.
The disease affects both the reproductive and urinary systems, causing symptoms like urinary problems including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night, blood in the urine, erectile dysfunction, pain in the hips, back, chest, or other areas from cancer spread to bones, and weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord.
How Estramustine Works
Estramustine is a medicine that consists of the combination of two types of drugs — a hormone called estrogen and a chemotherapy drug called nitrogen mustard. It is used for the treatment of patients who suffer from prostate cancer that is no longer responding to hormone treatment. While healthy cells normally reproduce and die, cancerous cells divide and continue uncontrollably to grow. Estramustine’s mechanism of action is based on stopping the cancerous cells from dividing into two new cells, which results in a blockage of tumor growth as well as of other hormones in the body that promote cancer growth.
“Estramustine phosphate has anti-tumor properties and it improves patient outcomes if combined with other chemotherapy agents such as docetaxel. The efficacy of estramustine phosphate in selected patients and its safety profile, provided used with any low-molecular-weight heparin support its use as a second-line treatment in hormone-resistant prostate cancer,” explain the authors of the study “The use of estramustine phosphate in the modern management of advanced prostate cancer.” “Combination therapy with estramustine and docetaxel can increase PSA response rates, improve quality of life and increase median patient survival compared with chemotherapy regimens that do not include estramustine.”
Estramustine to Treat Prostate Cancer
Estramustine was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December, 1981 as one of the first drugs in the country to address the disease. It is commercialized under the brand name Emcyt by Pfizer. Orally administered, estramustine is particularly indicated to treat metastatic or progressive prostate cancer. The medicine comes as capsules that should be taken on an empty stomach more than an hour before meals or at least two hours afterwards. Patients are also recommended to take estramustine with plenty of water, but not to mix it with milk. The treatment usually consist on three to four capsules a day typically for cycles of six weeks, followed by breaks of two weeks.
However, there are potential side effects associated with the treatment, such as feeling or being sick right after taking the medicine, breast tenderness or enlargement, lowered interest in having sex (libido), difficulty in getting an erection (impotence), diarrhea, and fluid build up leading to swollen hands or feet, which occur in more than 10% of the patients. Between one and 10% of the patients also experience loss of fertility, dry and itching skin or a rash, high blood pressure, liver damages, muscle weakness, sadness and depression, headaches, or confusion.
Note: Prostate Cancer News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.