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Hormone Treatment Fights Prostate Cancer

The Future of Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Some experts aren't sure how much further we can improve hormone therapy for prostate cancer.

"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 escape."

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 prostate cancer.

"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."

"It's like an endless chess game," he says. "You may not ever win, but you might be able to prolong the game indefinitely. I think that hormone therapy still has a lot of promise. We just need to develop better anti-androgens, and more varieties of them."

While experts debate the best way to use hormone therapy for prostate cancer, they do agree on the strides we've made in treating this disease. Improved detection and treatment -- like hormone therapy -- have really changed the picture.

"Prostate cancer is really a different disease than it was 15 years ago," says Thrasher. "Men who have recurrent prostate cancer are living so much longer than they used to."

Published May 2005.

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