Targeted therapy for prostate cancer

Last medical review:

Targeted therapy is sometimes used to treat prostate cancer. It uses drugs to target specific molecules (such as proteins) on cancer cells or inside them. These molecules help send signals that tell cells to grow or divide. By targeting these molecules, the drugs stop the growth and spread of cancer cells and limit harm to normal cells. Targeted therapy may also be called molecular targeted therapy.

You may have targeted therapy to treat metastatic prostate cancer that stops responding to hormone therapy (called castration-resistant prostate cancer) and that has certain genetic mutations.

Your healthcare team will consider your personal needs to plan the drugs, doses and schedules of targeted therapy. You may also receive other treatments.

Targeted therapy drugs used for prostate cancer

Targeted therapy drugs used are:

  • olaparib (Lynparza) to treat metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer with an HRR gene mutation, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation

Side effects

Side effects can happen with any type of treatment for prostate cancer, but everyone's experience is different. Some people have many side effects. Other people have few or none at all.

Targeted therapy attacks cancer cells but can also damage healthy cells. If you develop side effects, they can happen any time during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after targeted therapy. Sometimes late side effects develop months or years after targeted therapy. Most side effects go away on their own or can be treated, but some side effects may last a long time or become permanent.

Side effects of targeted therapy will depend mainly on the type of drug, the dose and your overall health. Some common side effects of targeted therapy for prostate cancer are:

Tell your healthcare team if you have these side effects or others you think might be from targeted therapy. The sooner you tell them of any problems, the sooner they can suggest ways to help you deal with them.

Information about specific cancer drugs

Details on specific drugs change regularly. Find out more about sources of drug information and where to get details on specific drugs.

Questions to ask about targeted therapy

Find out more about targeted therapy. To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about targeted therapy.

Expert review and references

  • Peter Chung, MBChB, FRCPC
  • Krista Noonan, MD, FRCPC
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  • PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. Prostate Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2020: https://www.cancer.gov/.
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network . NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Prostate Cancer (Version 3.2020) . 2020 .
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  • Saad F, Aprikian A, Finelli A, et al . 2019 Canadian Urological Association (CUA)-Canadian Uro Oncology Group (CUOG) guideline: Management of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) . Canadian Urological Association Journal . 2019 : 13(10):307-14 .
  • So AI, Chi KN, Danielson B, et al . Canadian Urological Association-Canadian Urologic Oncology Group guideline on metastatic castration-naive and castration-sensitive prostate cancer . Canadian Urological Association Journal . 2020 : 14(2): 17–23 .
  • Alberta Health Services. Advanced/Metastatic Prostate Cancer - Clinical Practice Guideline GU-010 - Version 2 . 2020 : https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/.