Doctors have discovered a new treatment method that could help advanced prostate cancer patients live longer.
The treatment, which was devised by oncologists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, adds the chemotherapy drug docetaxel to the usual hormone-depleting therapy for prostate cancer.
For years hormone reduction has been used to fight prostate cancer, which is often advanced by hormones like testosterone. However, physicians have found hormone-depleting therapy to be effective only in the first stages of the disease, which often becomes resistant to such therapy in the advanced stage.
Christopher Sweeney, the lead author of the research team’s report (which was recently presented to the American Society of Clinical Oncology), says he firmly believes the new treatment — which combines chemotherapy with hormone therapy — will have a dramatic impact on prostate cancer’s survival rate.
“This is the first study to identify a strategy that prolongs survival in newly diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer,” Sweeney said. “The benefit is substantial and warrants this being a new standard treatment for men who … are fit for chemotherapy.”
A recent study by the U.S. National Cancer Institute suggests Sweeney and his team really are on to something. In that study just under 800 men diagnosed with prostate cancer were given two different treatments. One received only hormone therapy, while the other was given both hormone therapy and docetaxel. The results: fewer men in the docetaxel group died and they tended to live much longer.
American Society of Clinical Oncology president Clifford Hudis is encouraged by the findings. “These results demonstrate how we can use ‘old tools’ in new, more powerful ways to improve and extend patients’ lives,” Hudis said.