PROSTATE CANCER: SWITCHING ON CHEMO
REPORT: MB #3115
BACKGROUND: Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, following skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 192,280 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed each year, and prostate cancer accounts for about 10 percent of cancer-related deaths in men. One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer starts in the prostate gland, part of the male reproductive system.
CHEMOTHERAPY RESISTANCE: Treatment options for prostate cancer vary based on the stage of the cancerous tumor. Prostate cancer that has spread or that is resistant to hormonal treatments may be treated with chemotherapy.
In some cases, the cancer may become resistant to chemotherapy. This occurs when a cancer that had been responding to therapy begins to grow again. This may be due to a mutation of the cancer cells, cancer cells repairing the DNA breaks caused by the chemotherapeutic drugs, or cancer cells developing a means to inactivate the drugs. In an attempt to prevent drug resistance, clinicians often give chemotherapy drugs in combination. This is meant to reduce the likelihood of developing a resistance to any single drug.
A new approach to combating chemotherapy resistance in prostate cancer patients is in clinical trials at the University of Miami. Researchers discovered a gene that appears to be responsible for activating chemotherapy in prostate cancer cells. Sometimes, this gene gets turned off, and thus chemotherapy stops working. "What we found is another way of activating the gene again," Rakesh Singal, M.D., a medical oncologist and researcher at the University of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center, told Ivanhoe.
Dr. Singal and his team give a drug called Vidaza for several days prior to administering chemotherapy. The drug works by preventing the gene responsible for chemo activation from turning off. "Right now, there are no good options for patients who stop responding to
[chemotherapy] … but now there seems to be an option," Dr. Singal said.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
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