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Prostate Cancer: Latest Treatments and Emerging Therapies

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What is palliative therapy and how is it used for prostate cancer?

Several therapies can palliate symptoms -- that is, relieve pain and reduce symptoms associated with advanced metastatic prostate cancer. These include:

  • External beam radiation or intravenous delivery of a radioactive drug for relief of bone pain
  • Pain medications
  • Use of bisphosphonate drugs (such as Zometa) that help to rebuild fragile bones and prevent or delay fractures

Palliative care specialists can also see a patient early in the course of his treatment for advanced cancer and help him to understand and adjust to his situation. This has actually helped improve survival in people with other forms of cancer, and has helped patients maintain a sense of control, thereby improving their quality of life.

 

How can clinical trials for prostate cancer treatment help someone who has advanced prostate cancer?

Men with advanced prostate cancer, including hormone-resistant disease, may be eligible for one of several ongoing clinical trials. These trials of drugs are looking at emerging therapies that can be given either alone or in combination with radiation and/or hormonal therapy. The investigational treatment strategies include:

  • Anti-androgen drugs. The drugs being studied have a novel mechanism for blocking the production of testosterone throughout the body.
  • Angiogenesis inhibitors. These are drugs that interfere with the development of blood vessels necessary for tumor growth.
  • New Chemotherapy drugs and other oral and intravenous medications.
  • Steroids such as prednisone.
  • Anti-androgen drugs. The drugs being studied have a novel mechanism for blocking the production of testosterone throughout the body.

In addition, there are chemotherapy drugs already available for treatment of prostate cancer outside of clinical trials. Two have shown the potential to extend survival in patients with metastatic prostate cancer. Taxotere is one such drug. It is derived from the needles of the yew tree. It blocks the growth of cancer cells by jamming up the mechanism that allows them to divide and replicate. The other drug Jevtana is a synthetic agent with potential to extend survival after Taxotere has stopped working.

There is also now an approved vaccine therapy called Provenge, which appears to have the potential to extend life in patients with hormone-resistant disease.

The choice of which treatment is best for you is ultimately yours. It's a matter for you to decide, with the help of your doctor, your family, and your personal support network.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jay B. Zatzkin, MD, FACP on August 02, 2013
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