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Latest Prostate Cancer Treatments

latest-prostate-cancer-treatments_300Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in American men, but the latest prostate cancer treatments provide hope and new choices for men facing this disease. The newer drugs show promise for extending the life span of men with late-stage metastatic prostate cancers that have spread despite other therapies such as castration and, in some cases, chemotherapy.

The approach of each treatment is unique and differs in administration from infusion to oral tablet to injection. Each of the treatments discussed here has a different approach to treating prostate cancer. One of the treatments uses the body’s own cells to treat the cancer, another affects hormone production, and the newest one uses a form of radiation to target bone tumors. But what each one of these latest prostate cancer treatments has to offer is another treatment option for patients and doctors.

Immunotherapy With Provenge

Provenge (sipuleucel-T) is an immunotherapy that uses the body’s own cells to fight cancer. Provenge is considered a positive approach to treating prostate cancer because it works with the body and does not cause damage, unlike some other therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation or hormone therapy.

Provenge is a drug that is leading the way for how we will be treating other kinds of cancers in the near future. It is a treatment for men with metastatic prostate cancer, which means the cancer has spread to the bones or other organs. It is used in men with minimal symptoms who do not require narcotic pain medication for their cancer. It treats men whose prostate cancer continued to get worse despite hormone therapy. It can be used after chemotherapy (after waiting a certain amount of time) or before the chemotherapy treatment.

Each dose of Provenge involves collecting a patient’s blood in a process similar to donating blood. Certain cells are harvested, and the remaining blood is returned to the patient. The harvested cells are modified, or trained, to attack the prostate cancer. Then the cells are put back in the patient’s body a few days later via an infusion. Treatment usually involves three doses given over five weeks.

In clinical trials, men who took Provenge extended life an average of 4.1 months longer than men who took a placebo. It is tolerated pretty well by patients. The most common side effects include muscle aches and pains, joint pain, fatigue, fever, chills, headache, and nausea.

At more than $90,000, Provenge has a high price tag, but it is usually covered by most health plans and Medicare. Patients can apply for financial assistance from the drug’s manufacturer, Dendreon. Dendreon may even reimburse patients in need for expenses such as copays, co-insurance or deductibles. The drug may be free for uninsured patients or patients who demonstrate financial hardship.

Lowering Testosterone With Zytiga

Zytiga (abiraterone acetate) is a hormone therapy used for prostate cancer patients whose cancer has spread after chemotherapy. It is for late-stage, castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Zytiga is an oral medication that the patient takes once a day. The dose is accompanied by the steroid prednisone, which is taken two times per day. Treatment lasts about eight months on average. Zytiga targets a protein (called cytochrome P450 17A1), which plays a large role in producing testosterone. How is Zytiga different from other hormone therapies? Zytiga is the only therapy that actually reduces testosterone produced in the body at three different locations: the testes, the adrenal glands and the prostate tumor.

According to studies, men who took Zytiga lived 3.9 months longer than men who took a placebo. The drug has several common side effects such as cough, diarrhea, retention of fluids, heartbeat disorders, high blood pressure, hot flashes, swelling of joints, low potassium, muscle aches, respiratory infections, upset stomach, frequent urination and urinary tract infections. The prednisone taken with Zytiga can be associated with immune system weakness and makes the patients susceptible to infection.

Zytiga is the least expensive of the three new medications. It costs $40,000 for an eight-month course of treatment. Most insurance companies and Medicare cover Zytiga. The manufacturer has financial assistance available for eligible patients.

Treating Metastasized Bone Tumors With Xofigo

Xofigo (radium-223) is an injectable medication that is the most recent prostate cancer treatment to gain Food and Drug Administration approval (on May 15). This new medication is for hormone-resistant prostate cancers that have spread to the bones but not to other organs. Xofigo cannot be used with chemotherapy.

Xofigo contains radium, a heavy metal. It delivers shortwave radiation directly to bone tumors without harming the surrounding tissues. This kills the prostate cancer cells in the bones. Xofigo is given in six injections every four weeks.

Men who took Xofigo in clinical trials lived three months longer than men who took the placebo. Its most common side effects are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and swelling of the ankles, legs and feet.

The complete course of therapy for Xofigo costs $69,000. Patients need to check with their insurance companies to see if they have coverage for this new medication. If not, Bayer has patient assistance programs in place to help with the cost of the drug. Uninsured patients and patients whose insurance companies do not cover Xofigo may be able to get Xofigo free of charge. Bayer also assists eligible patients with copays and other expenses associated with taking Xofigo.

Latest Prostate Cancer Treatments Offer Choices

The good news is that today’s prostate cancer patients have more treatment choices available to them than even just a couple of years ago. From immunotherapy to testosterone suppression to drugs that treat bone tumors, there are many treatments from which patients with prostate cancer can choose based on their symptoms, coverage and doctor’s advice.

Filed Under: Alternative MedicineCancerCancer ConcernsEasy Health Digest™Men’s Health

About the Author: Dr. Geo Espinosa is the Director of the Integrative Urology Center at New York University Langone Medical Center and the Chief Science Officer at Prostate Research Labs. Before joining NYU, Dr. Espinosa was a clinician, researcher and director of clinical trials at the Center for Holistic Urology at Columbia University Medical Center. He is a licensed naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and a Registered Herbalist. Dr. Espinosa is an author of the naturopathic entry in 1000 Cures for 200 Ailments (Harper Collins, March, 2007) and “Prostate Cancer — Nutrients that may slow its progression,” Food and Nutrients in Disease Management (Maryland: Cadmus Publishing, 2009). Dr. Espinosa also serves on the editorial board of the Natural Medicine Journal. Dr Geo is a frequent speaker at universities, medical schools and conferences on Integrative Health, nutrition and natural treatments for prostate disease. Read more on Dr. Geo.

Facebook Conversations

  • http://N/A JIM


  • Austen Barnes

    It is gratifying to see advances in this field. However, it is hard to equal the planned sequence of natural supplements which are able to saturate the DNA memory of the Ca cells as they mutate, A sequence of five or so supplements over five years or so upset the DNA coding such that the Ca remains in permanent remission. By repeating the sequence we do not cure our cancers, but keep them destabilized in DNA and permanently paused in metastasis.

    Supplements must be chosen which are known to have different inhibiting factors affecting our cancer, maintaining a high cellular stress level aimed uniquely at the Ca cells. The DNA capacity for mutating is limited, because if the Ca cell mutates too much it becomes identified as intrusive and is attacked by the “T” cells.

  • Jim

    Austen there have been no advances in 60 years. The death rate of cancer is accelerating. Alternative / Integrative medicine has a much better success rate in saving life’s and I am not referring to the absurd 5yr survival time but rather survivors of 20-30yrs and beyond. Western medicine treats the symptom not the cause and its referred to as good business. The medical profession has traded humanity for cash and its a hypocritical oath they take not a Hippocratic one. Doctors are controlled by several organizations such as the FDA, W.H.O. A.M.A Big Pharma and more. They are taught drugs in med school not nutrition. A doctor who persist working with alternative treatments and solutions will be destroyed. This is very well documented. There are cures for cancer with good track records showing there use over 25-30-years but they can’t be patented so the medical business lets people die!

    • Jim Wallace

      So true! Ronald Reagan went to Germany for his cancer treatment instead of chemo and lived for 19 years. Some wealthy entertainers have done the same.


      • Sarah

        Does anyone know what that treatment was?

        • http://N/A JIM

          Sarah , do you have cancer? There are many different types of cancers and tons of therapies. Where are you located?

          • Sarah

            As far as I know, I do not have cancer. I am always reading and am interested in alternative therapies. If my family or I ever do get a cancer diagnosis I want options. I do not trust most medical procedures and the more I know the more that I realize “they” don’t have a handle on a real cure. I have read several times that Reagan was treated for cancer out of the country but have never heard any details. I always wondered why one of kids or someone hasn’t made it public. I live in the Cincinnati area.

          • http://N/A Jim

            Sarah , may I complement you on your perspective. They are not looking for a cure. There are several cures for cancer but you will not here of them from your doctor. if you will send me an e-mail I will be happy to elaborate.