New Prostate Cancer Treatment Approach

New Prostate Cancer Treatment Approach

Walnut, commonly used to represent the prostate, why? Maybe the size?

In a find that seems to be the antithesis to all we know of prostate cancer, researcher find that a new prostate cancer treatment approach, high dose testosterone therapy actually can suppress advanced prostate cancer and reverse resistance to testosterone blocking drugs used to treat the disease.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men. This cancer, just as breast cancer, exist in forms that are dependent on hormones to keep growing. A characteristic that is exploited by treating patients with hormone therapy, stopping hormone production and failing that blocking hormone receptors making the cancer grow slower. It’s in this area a new prostate cancer treatment approach have been developed by doctors at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

New Prostate Cancer Treatment Approach

The finding is reported in the Jan. 7 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Timing is everything according to study leader Samuel Denmeade, M.D. Timing of the testosterone was the crucial factor for the positive effect in this study. Previous studies looking at hormone therapy have found that taking testosterone at the “wrong” time without testosterone blocking therapy can actually worsen prostate cancer.

In metastatic prostate cancer it’s common that the cancer develops a resistance to hormone therapy. With testosterone levels on the rise once again doctors tend to switch to drugs that instead block the testosterone receptor, preventing the effects of the hormone.

The leader of the study Samuel Denmeade, M.D says this can make the cancer more aggressive over time and that men on these therapies experience harsh side-effects like impotence, weight gain and muscle loss.

[pullquote]”This really is the most lethal form of prostate cancer, It’s the one that’s the most resistant, and typically once people progress to this stage it’s when we start to worry that they’re at a much higher risk for dying from prostate cancer.” study contributor Michael Schweizer, M.D.[/pullquote]

New Prostate Cancer Treatment Approach: Injecting Testosterone

In this study researchers tried to combat the problem of hormone resistant cancer with, hormones. The study included 16 men receiving treatment to block testosterone production, with rising levels of PSA and evidence that the cancers were becoming hormone resistant. These men were given injections of testosterone in three 28 day cycles together with a chemotherapy drug called etoposide.

14 men completed the study, seven showed a drop in PSA levels of between 30 and 99% indicating that the cancer had stabilized or become less severe. Of the ten men where the cancer could be imaged five had tumors shrink by more than half with one man’s cancer completely disappearing.

[pullquote]”Surprisingly, we saw PSA reductions in all of 10 men, including four whose PSA didn’t change during the trial, who were given testosterone-blocking drugs after the testosterone treatment,” says Denmeade.[/pullquote]

All 10 men with cancer that could be imaged had PSA reductions, suggesting that this type of testosterone treatment can actually reverse the hormone resistance that develop in many cancers.

This new prostate cancer treatment approach had some interesting results but with such a small group of patients tested it’s hard to really know if this works. With only 14 men completing the trial and 7 having positive effects it’s too early to say if this treatment strategy will be effective but the results to lend some hope for people with advanced prostate cancer.

Image Credit: Harry via flickr.com, CC BY-NC 2.0