Hormone Treatment Fights Prostate Cancer
Different Approaches to Starting Hormone Therapy continued...
However, Holden argues that early treatment may be helpful. "I think one
of the reasons that the death rate from prostate cancer is going down is that
we're using hormone therapy early," he tells WebMD. "We haven't proved
that early treatment improves overall survival yet, but I think we
Researchers are also looking at "intermittent therapy," starting and
stopping hormone treatment for months at a time. The big advantage is that men
could go off therapy temporarily and thus be free of the side effects. Early
study results have been promising.
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer is also being tested in combination with
other therapies, like radiation and chemotherapy. One recent study looked at
men with locally advanced prostate cancer - cancer that has spread outside the
prostate, but not yet into other parts of the body. Researchers found that
adding just six months of hormone therapy to radiation allowed the men to live
longer. Researchers are also studying the effects of hormone therapy earlier in
treatment, for instance right after or even before surgery.
The Future of Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer
Some experts aren't sure how much further we can improve hormone therapy for
"I'm not saying that we've reached the end of what we can do with
hormonal therapy," Thrasher tells WebMD, "but there are only so many
ways to shut down the hormonal effects. The cancer will still eventually
Brooks argues that, overall, prostate cancer is only moderately affected by
hormones. "You can only do so much manipulating the levels of
hormones," says Brooks. "We have to find better ways to fight the basis
of the cancer cells."
Thrasher and Brooks have more hope that the next breakthroughs will come
with different approaches, like chemotherapy or vaccines.
But Holden remains optimistic about the future of hormone therapy for
"Cancer cells eventually figure out how to survive, how to overcome a
specific hormone therapy," he says. "But if we have enough types of
drugs and can keep changing the hormone therapy, we might be able to keep the
cancer cells in a state of confusion. We could change therapies before they
have a chance to adapt."