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.
A recent study evaluated the effects of finasteride (sold as Proscar) on the usefulness of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening to detect prostate cancer. Researchers determined that treatment with finasteride may differentiate individuals who have a rise in PSA due to cancer from those who have a rise due to other causes, such as benign enlargement and inflammation. The combination of finasteride with PSA to detect prostate cancer may decrease the rate of unnecessary biopsies.
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.
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.
A recent study found that the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen can prevent breast tenderness and breast pain in men treated with androgen suppression therapy for prostate cancer. Tamoxifen was more effective at reducing breast symptoms than another breast cancer medication or radiation therapy. Treatment was not associated with any significant side effects.
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.
The New England Journal of Medicine | Oct 25, 2012
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.
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.