A new drug may offer another treatment option to men with advanced stages of prostate cancer.
While early-stage cancers can be monitored, but not necessarily acted on, advanced versions often require an invasive procedure, either through surgery or radiation. But the new drug, Zytiga, may provide an alternative to those measures: clinical trials have shown that it was able to eliminate or reduce tumors in roughly one-third of the patients tested.
The FDA approved Zytiga to be used in combination with prednisone to treat late-stage, treatment-resistant prostate cancer. This treatment could be used when a patient hasn’t responded to medical castration (where the testes are starved of hormones via antigen-blocking medication) or surgical castration (the removal of the testes) or chemotherapy.
According to the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the drug is a hormone therapy used to block a specific enzyme (cytochrome P17) that enables the body to make androgen. Androgen is the building block for the production of testosterone in men – by cutting off androgen, testosterone cannot be created. It is a hormone upon which prostate cancer cells feed.
So what makes this research so promising? Ideally, this could change the treatment path for men with advanced prostate cancer. Instead of turning to invasive surgery or chemotherapy, an oral medication could be taken to fight the cancer. The clinical trials found that in one-third of the cases, tumors were "eliminated or nearly eliminated" – an encouraging sign for men with few other options. For those facing metastatic cancer, even if it is yet to spread beyond the prostate, the only options now available involve starving, even completely removing, the testes – a profoundly serious side effect.
There are caveats to this promising story, though. The study was a small sample size. Johnson and Johnson, the maker of the drug, has said that larger studies are necessary. But the results of clinical trials were promising. Though it may take time for the drug to be used as a first-line option, the results of these studies show great promise for the prostate cancer community.
National Institutes for Health and Clinical Excellence. (17 May 2012). NHS 'OK' for Prostate Cancer Drug Zytiga. PubMed Health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2012-05-17-nhs-ok-for-prostate-cancer-drug-zytiga/.
Pollack, Andrew. (17 May 2012). Trial Supports Earlier Use of Prostate Cancer Drug. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/health/zytiga-a-prostate-cancer-drug-does-well-in-trial.html?_r=3&smid=tw-nytimeshealth&seid=auto.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (28 April 2011). FDA Approves Zytiga for Late-Stage Prostate Cancer. FDA News Release. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm253055.htm.
Published On: May 24, 2012