Super ASK Patient: Phil Kauffman Finds Peace in a Pragmatic Approach to Lung Cancer Treatment

In November of 2014, Phil Kauffman went to his primary care doctor with what he thought was a broken rib. The doctor advised him to let it heal on its own—a standard approach for such maladies.

Phil, a retired engineering consultant who lives near San Diego, California, with his wife (their two daughters are grown), went home and waited for his rib to heal, but the pain stuck around for months.

In March of 2015 his doctor ordered an X-ray, but instead of a broken rib, it revealed suspicious spots in Phil’s lung. A CT scan found five lesions characteristic of lung cancer. His rib pain was caused by pleural effusion (liquid) in his right lung, which was extracted, and an examination of that liquid confirmed a diagnosis of stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Phil remembers that during the first week after his diagnosis he was paralyzed with fear. His brother in law, a physician, helped him snap out of it, assuring him that his treatment options guaranteed a survival period of at least a few years or maybe more, and that cancer research was progressing at such a fast rate that the prospect of extending his lifetime beyond a couple of years was good. Continue reading…


Doubts Incite Conflict over Prostate Cancer Vaccine Provenge

Results of a clinical trial that evaluated the prostate cancer vaccine Provenge have come under scrutiny. Questions arise regarding the reported 4-month survival benefit that ultimately led to FDA approval. Disputers suggest that a flaw in methods led to the survival benefit, but that the vaccine may actually cause harm.


Study Finds Surgery for Early Prostate Cancer Unecessary

A recent study evaluated the usefulness of surgery versus observation to treat localized prostate cancer. In the study, 731 men were followed for 10 years. Those treated with surgery did not have a significant decreased risk of death compared to those who were observed for advancing cancer.

Primary source: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1113162?query=featured_home


Yearly Prostate Cancer Screening May Decrease Quality of Life

A recent study weighed the benefits of yearly prostate cancer screening, finding that the potential disadvantages decrease the potential advantages by 23%. Harmful results of yearly prostate screening include negative prostate biopsies, radical prostatectomy, and radiation therapy.


Prostate Cancer Gene May Determine Tumor Growth, Return

A recent study found a relationship between the SPARCL1 gene and prostate cancer recurrence. Individuals who had lower activity of the gene had a higher risk of prostate cancer recurrence over 10 years. A test to detect SPARCL1 is being designed.

Primary source: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/37/14977.full.pdf+html


FDA Approves New Drug for the Treatment of Advanced Prostate Cancer

The FDA has approved enzalutamide (sold as Xtandi) 3 months ahead of deadline. The drug improved survival by nearly 5 months in men with advanced prostate cancer. It is approved for individuals who have not responded to chemotherapy. However, manufacturers hope to expand approval to include patients not previously treated with chemotherapy.


NEJM Poll Reveals Lack of Consensus Among Clinicians over PSA Screening

The utility of (prostate-specific antigen) PSA screening to inform prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment has been a topic of heated debate. The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) conducted a poll that indicates a lack of consensus among clinicians regarding best prostate cancer screening practices. Many clinicians feel patients should make informed decisions regarding testing preferences.


Radiation Therapy in Combination with Hormonal Therapy Improves Overall Survival in Locally Advanced Prostate Cancer

A recent study evaluated androgen deprivation therapy with and without radiation therapy in individuals with locally advanced prostate cancer. Individuals who received combination treatment had a better overall survival rate. Bowel-related side effects were similar for both groups 24 months after treatment.


Study Finds Beta-Carotene Safe for Use during Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer

A recent study evaluated the effects of beta-carotene antioxidant supplements in patients undergoing radiation therapy for advanced prostate cancer. Researchers were concerned that the supplements could reduce the benefits of radiation. The study followed participants for 10 years and did not find a difference in progression to lethal prostate cancer in individuals who took beta-carotene and those who did not.

Primary source: http://www.redjournal.org/article/S0360-3016%2811%2902773-8/fulltext