Why does my father need chemotherapy "indefinitely" and what does this mean?

Pandora asked...

My father is 65 years young. He is in his second round of chemotherapy, Taxotare. He was unable to continue taking prednisone along with his chemotherapy because he was unable to sleep, and that resulted in making poor decisions. The doctor told him yesterday at treatment that his cancer is not advancing at that his PSA remains at 20. However, they want the treatments to go on indefinitely. He can take chemo holidays. What does this mean? I know he is incurable, but we thought he was going for 10 treatments. What is indefinitely? Until he dies and why would they make that decision?

Expert Answer

Andrew Putnam, M.D. is a Palliative Care physician at Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.

Most likely the doctors are suggesting chemotherapy indefinitely because it seems to be keeping the cancer from growing, but is not making it shrink. I would guess they are worried that if they stopped the chemotherapy for more than a short while (chemo holiday), it would allow the cancer to grow and possibly spread. So the plan is probably to continue as long as the chemo is holding the cancer in check.