Prostate Cancer ‘Dream Teams’ Lay Out Project Plans to Target Treatment-Resistant Prostate Cancer and to Identify New Prostate Cancer Subgroups


Last week, cancer researchers gathered in Washington, D.C., to attend the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting. At the meeting, two large-scale projects to improve the treatment of prostate cancer and prolong patients’ survival were outlined in presentations by two prominent researchers and clinicians: Arul M. Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD, a professor of urology at the University of Michigan and director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Eric J. Small, MD, the deputy director of clinical sciences at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Continue reading…


Large International Study Identifies 23 New Genetic Sites Linked to Prostate Cancer


An ongoing collaboration of more than 50 research groups around the world has identified 23 new genes or genomic regions that may contribute to the development of prostate cancer. These findings allow for a more accurate assessment of a person’s risk of developing prostate cancer. The results were published in the April, 2013, issue of Nature Genetics (doi:10.1038/ng.2560).

Including the 23 new prostate cancer susceptibility genetic loci, there are now a total of 77 known loci linked to prostate cancer. This accounts for about 30% of all familial risk for prostate cancer—the other factors for familial risk for prostate cancer are not yet defined. Continue reading…


How Much Hormonal Therapy Is Sufficient?


A recent trial suggests that the standard duration of hormonal therapy is longer than necessary for many patients. In the study, men with localized, but high-risk prostate cancer who were treated with hormonal therapy for 18 months lived just as long as those treated for 36 months. The phase III trial was conducted at multiple hospitals in Quebec, Canada. Dr. Abdenour Nabid of Sherbrooke University Hospital Center in Sherbrooke, Quebec, is lead author of the study. He presented these results last month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Genitourinary (ASCO GU) Symposium in Orlando, Florida. Continue reading…


Prostate Tumor Origin Dictates Cancer Aggressiveness


The type of cell that gives rise to a prostate tumor may dictate the aggressiveness of that tumor. Research led by Michael Shen and Zhu Wang of Columbia University Medical Center in New York suggests that tumors originating from a certain type of prostate gland cell are more likely to be associated with a poor patient prognosis. The study is a step forward in determining how to identify which prostate cancer patients may need more aggressive treatment. Continue reading…


Harnessing the Immune System to Fight Prostate Cancer


In April of 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first immunotherapy for prostate cancer. Sipuleucel-T (Provenge), an autologous active cellular immunotherapy (a cancer vaccine), was approved for men with asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Sipuleucel-T was also the first active cellular immunotherapy approved by the FDA and, at the time of approval, only the second approved drug for mCRPC patients. Prior to approval, the only other option for these patients was the chemotherapy docetaxel. Continue reading…


Novel Biomarker Tests Could Improve Active Surveillance


Active surveillance—close monitoring of a prostate cancer patient’s condition without treatment—has garnered increasing interest over the last few years. More and more patients are putting off potentially risky treatment in favor of regular tumor biopsies and watching for increased levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood, which may indicate cancer progression. Continue reading…


Novel Clinical Trial Strategies in the New Prostate Cancer Treatment Era

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Genitourinary Symposium is coming up this week (February 14-16, 2013). The annual symposium focuses on genitourinary cancers, including prostate cancer, bringing together expert clinicians and researchers for a multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment. Ahead of the meeting, oncologist Charles Ryan of the University of California Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Francisco, has written a thought-provoking educational article on how to better design clinical trials for patients who have been treated with either abiraterone or enzalutamide (Clinical trial design strategies in the post-abiraterone/enzalutamide setting, ASCO; 2013). Continue reading…


Fueling Prostate Cancer with Stress


In general, stress is not a good thing. Chronic stress can prevent the immune system from working properly and interfere with healing and recovery. Studies have even suggested that chronic stress may stimulate carcinogenesis and prevent response to therapy, but this has not been extensively explored.

Now, researchers led by George Kulik, a biologist at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, are among the first to show that behavioral stress can worsen prostate cancer outcomes. Continue reading…


The Shifting Prostate Cancer Treatment Paradigm


In the last 2 years, the FDA has approved several new active metastatic prostate cancer therapies. This progress was made after researchers discovered that the available androgen deprivation therapies (ADT) had failed patients and that castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) is not actually resistant to hormonal manipulation. Rather, ADT reduces levels of circulating hormones by 95%, but only by 75% within the prostate. Advanced prostate tumors are adept at making their own testosterone. Therefore, tumors seemingly resistant to androgen deprivation remain dependent on androgen receptor signaling for their growth—these tumors still rely on hormone signaling.

About 70 years ago, researcher Charles B. Huggins discovered that male hormones (androgens) are important for the growth and survival of prostate cancer tumors. In 1966, Huggins was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his work on using hormones to control prostate cancer. In the last 10 years, studies have shown that castrate-resistant prostate tumors can continue to make their own hormones and can also increase the expression of androgen receptors on prostate cancer cells. This continued hormone signaling allows for continued tumor growth and cancer progression.

New oral androgen receptor signaling therapies have taken advantage of this latest research, targeting either hormones themselves or their receptors. These drugs provide new opportunities for patients who, just a few years ago, would have run out of treatment options. Continue reading…