As a prostate cancer survivor, Ray Caruana is no stranger to doctors.
Ray has lived with cancer for 17 years.
He's had a prostatectomy, radiation and hormone therapy.
Doctor Roberto Pili says eventually patients stop responding to treatments. He's now studying a biologic agent, Tasquinimod, to help men who are running out of options.
It's one pill, once a day, and it appears to pack a one-two punch. It disrupts the formation of new blood vessels to the tumor and also improves the body's immune response to the cancer.
Ray's been on the drug for a year. His cancer is stable.
He's learned to appreciate life's little moments like a cup of coffee with his wife.
More information on next page.
BACKGROUND: Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. It usually grows slows and may initially remain confined to the prostate gland. Some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or no treatment. Other types are aggressive and may spread quickly. When prostate cancer is detected early, patients have a better chance of successful treatment.
SYMPTOMS: Patients with prostate cancer may not have symptoms in the early stages of the disease. More advanced prostate cancer may cause symptoms such as trouble urinating, decreased force in the stream of urine, blood in the urine, blood in semen, swelling in the legs, discomfort in the pelvic area or bone pain.
WHO'S AT RISK? The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. This type of cancer is most common in men over age 65. Black men also have a greater risk of prostate cancer compared to men of other races. A family history of prostate cancer may also increase a man's risk. Obesity is another risk factor. Obese men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are more likely to have advanced disease that's more difficult to treat.
TREATMENTS: Men who are diagnosed with a very early stage prostate cancer may not require treatment right away. Some men never need treatment. Doctors may recommend "watchful waiting," where they perform regular follow-up blood tests, rectal exams and biopsies to monitor the progression of the cancer. In other cases where a man's cancer is progressing, surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, cryoablation, high-intensity focused ultrasound treatments or chemotherapy may be used.
NEW THERAPY: In a clinical trial, a new biologic agent, known as tasquinimod, is being used to treat men with advanced prostate cancer that has progressed on hormone therapy. This oral drug disrupts the formation of new blood vessels to the tumor and improves the body's immune response to the cancer. After six months on tasquinimod, 69 percent of men in the study showed no disease progression compared to 37 percent of men on placebo. The most common side effects experienced by the participants were gastrointestinal problems, fatigue and bone pain. There were rare occurrences of heart attack, stroke and deep vein thrombosis in the study subjects. Researchers are now starting a phase III trial to further test the drug.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
(Information provided by Ivanhoe)