Steroids can stop the adrenal glands producing as much testosterone, so can help to control your cancer. They can also improve your appetite, give you more energy, and help with symptoms such as pain.
You might have steroids alone or in combination with other treatments, including chemotherapy and abiraterone. Common steroids include dexamethasone, prednisolone and hydrocortisone.
Steroids can cause side effects. But because they are given in a low dose to treat prostate cancer, most men don’t get many side effects. Before you start taking steroids, talk to your doctor or nurse about the possible side effects. They affect each man differently, and you might not get any of them.
Side effects can include:
- indigestion and irritation of the stomach lining – take steroids after a meal and ask your doctor about medicines that could help
- a bigger appetite – try to eat a healthy diet to keep your weight under control
- having more energy and a more active mind, which could make you feel irritable or anxious or give you trouble sleeping – take steroids before 4pm and tell your doctor or nurse if this is a problem
- water retention, which can cause swollen hands and feet
- a slightly higher risk of getting infections – tell your GP if you have a high temperature or other signs of infection
- bruising more easily
- raised blood sugar levels – tell your doctor if you need to urinate (pee) more often or get very thirsty, as these can be signs of high blood sugar
- weak bones – you might need to take medicines or calcium and vitamin D supplements.
Don’t suddenly stop taking steroids as this can make you ill.
You'll be given a steroid treatment card that says you're taking steroids. You should carry this with you at all times and show it to anyone treating you (such as a doctor, nurse or dentist). It’s important that they know you're taking steroids.