December 28, 2012 | by Tami Dennis
Advances in prostate cancer treatment probably won’t make most Americans’ list of top 2012 events, but for some men, and their families, such developments stand out among the year’s medical news.
Cy Stein, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director for clinical research, holds up two 2012 events as being particularly significant in the treatment of prostate cancer. One was the FDA approval of the drug enzalutamide (Xtandi) for the treatment of men previously treated with the chemotherapy drug taxotere (Docetaxel) .
“This is an excellent drug that works, in summary, by blocking the interaction of testosterone, the male sex hormone, with the androgen receptor, which drives the growth and metastasis of prostate cancer cell,” says Stein, the Arthur and Rosalie Kaplan chair and professor of the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research. “Enzalutamide has been shown to prolong median life expectancy by approximately 5 months, and is very well-tolerated by most patients.”
“Previously, the drug was approved only for men who had already been treated with taxotere,” Stein says. “Oncologists had thus been in the absurd position of having had to treat men with cytotoxic chemotherapy before prescribing abiraterone.”
He continues: “However, many of our patients are elderly and are not optimal candidates for these relatively toxic drugs, as compared with abiraterone, which is very well-tolerated. With this recent approval, the restriction has been removed.”
Prostate cancer patients and their doctors are now setting their sights on 2013.