A New Drug Can Extent The Life Of Some Men With Advanced Prostate Cancer
Despite the fact that more and more men are now being diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early and treatable stage of the disease, sadly all too many men are still not being diagnosed until their cancer is well advanced. Treatment for advanced prostate cancer is not always easy, but the discovery of a new drug may well prove extremely useful to at least some men with advanced prostate cancer.
Although we are beginning, largely as a result of education, to detect more cases of prostate cancer in their early stages, unfortunately all too many cases are still not being detected until they are quite advanced.
Advanced prostate cancer refers to a cancer which has spread outside of the prostate gland itself and is divided into stage 3 cancer, in which the disease has spread into the pelvic tissue surrounding the prostate gland, and stage 4 cancer, in which the disease has spread, or metastasized, into other areas of the body, typically being carried by the lymphatic system.
Although not easy, stage 3 prostate cancer can often be treated quite effectively and it is possible to cure prostate cancer in stage 3. Once the disease has reached stage 4 however it becomes very difficult to cure and, while a cure is sometimes possible, treatment (typically the removal of the testes, to starve the cancer of testosterone, and chemotherapy) is generally aimed at managing the condition by slowing the progression of the disease and providing the patient with the best possible quality of life.
To this end, recent clinical trials have been examining the use of a drug called Pertuzumab and initial results suggest that this drug may well be effective in extending the life of many men suffering from advanced prostate cancer.
Amongst a small study group of men with advanced prostate cancer the use of Pertuzumab was shown to stabilize the disease for varying periods of time and, overall, extended the 12 month survival rate of the group as a whole to nearly 75%, which compared favorably to the expected survival rate without treatment of less than 50%.
Pertuzumab is a form of monoclonal antibody which is produced in a laboratory and is designed to seek out and bind with specific cells. In the case of prostate cancer Pertuzumab is designed to seek out a protein known as epidermal growth factor, which plays a significant role in the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Monoclonal antibodies are not new and can be used alone or to carry drugs, toxins or radioactive material directly to the site of a tumor. Each antibody is designed to seek out specific cells and a number of monoclonal antibodies are already in use treating cancers, while others are in development or undergoing clinical trials.
The use of this form of targeted therapy is evolving rapidly in the management of cancer patients in general and it is hoped that with further development this will become a significant form of treatment for advanced prostate cancer patients.
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