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Is Xtandi a chemotherapy drug and how does it work?

Medically reviewed by Melisa Puckey, BPharm. Last updated on Nov 21, 2023.

Official answer


Is Xtandi a chemotherapy drug?

No, Xtandi is not a chemotherapy drug despite being used to treat cancer. Xtandi is a type of hormone therapy that works to prevent prostate cancer cells from growing and spreading by blocking the action of a group of hormones called androgens.

Chemotherapy drugs, on the other hand, target cells that are developing and growing - a process that goes unchecked in cancer cells. Different chemotherapy drugs target cells at different points in their cell cycle, which is the series of phases the cells go through as they mature.

Taxotere (docetaxel) is an example of a chemotherapy drug used to treat prostate cancer. Taxotere belongs to a class of drugs called taxanes and it is a mitotic inhibitor. It stops cells from dividing to form new cells and damages cells in all phases of development by preventing enzymes from making the proteins cells need to reproduce.

What kind of drug is Xtandi?

Xtandi (enzalutamide) is a small-molecule drug and a type of hormone therapy or androgen suppression therapy. It is used to treat certain types of prostate cancer.

How does Xtandi work?

Xtandi is an androgen receptor inhibitor or anti-androgen. Androgens are a group of hormones, which includes testosterone, that stimulate prostate cancer cells to grow.

Xtandi works by blocking the action of androgens at the androgen receptor - reducing how often androgens can connect with the receptor - which helps prevent prostate cancer cells from growing and spreading.

The androgen receptor signaling pathway plays a key role in the development and function of the prostate and the initiation and progression of prostate cancer. The prostate is a gland that men have. It produces some of the fluid that makes up semen and sits in front of the seminal vesicles, which make most of the seminal fluid.

The prostate gland is found below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Running through the middle of the prostate gland is the tube (urethra) that carries urine and semen out of the body.


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