New Hope on the Horizon: Breakthrough Treatments for Prostate Cancer Warriors!

Prostate cancer ranks as the second leading cause of death in American men, but the emergence of new treatments offers hope and fresh choices for those battling this disease. These novel medications demonstrate potential for prolonging the lives of individuals with advanced metastatic prostate cancers that have spread despite undergoing other therapies like castration and, in certain instances, chemotherapy.

Each of these cutting-edge treatments takes a unique approach to tackle prostate cancer and varies in method of administration, from infusions and oral tablets to injections. One treatment harnesses the body’s own cells to combat cancer, another affects hormone production, while the most recent uses a form of radiation targeting bone tumors. The common factor among all these treatments, however, is that they offer patients and doctors more options to fight prostate cancer.

Immunotherapy With Provenge

Provenge (sipuleucel-T) is an immunotherapy that uses the body’s own cells to battle cancer. Unlike some other therapies, such as chemotherapy, radiation, or hormone therapy which can damage the body, Provenge is considered a positive approach to treating prostate cancer because it works in conjunction with the body.

This drug is currently spearheading how other cancers will potentially be treated in the future. It’s designed for men with metastatic prostate cancer—meaning that the cancer has spread to bones or other organs. Providing the patient has minimal symptoms and doesn’t require narcotic pain medication for their cancer, Provenge is typically used in men whose prostate cancer continued to worsen despite hormone therapy. It can also be administered after chemotherapy (after waiting for a certain amount of time) or before the chemotherapy treatment.

The treatment process usually involves three doses of Provenge given over the course of five weeks. Each dose requires collecting the patient’s blood, a process similar to donating blood. Certain cells are harvested and the remaining blood is returned to the patient. These harvested cells are then modified or trained to target the prostate cancer before being reintroduced into the patient’s body a few days later via an infusion.

On average, clinical trial participants who took Provenge lived 4.1 months longer when compared to those on a placebo. It’s generally well-tolerated by patients, with the most common side effects including muscle aches, joint pain, fatigue, fever, chills, headache, and nausea. While Provenge comes with a high price tag of over $90,000, it’s usually covered by most health plans and Medicare. In addition, patients can apply for financial assistance from the drug’s manufacturer, Dendreon, who may also reimburse patients in need for expenses such as copayments, co-insurance, or deductibles. Uninsured patients or those with demonstrated financial hardship may also receive the drug gratis.

Lowering Testosterone With Zytiga

Zytiga (abiraterone acetate) is a hormone therapy used for prostate cancer patients that target cancer spread after chemotherapy. It tackles late-stage, castration-resistant prostate cancer. The treatment lasts an average of eight months and is administered through oral medication taken daily. It’s typically accompanied by the steroid prednisone, which is taken twice daily.

Zytiga works by targeting a protein called cytochrome P450 17A1, which plays a significant role in producing testosterone. Unlike other hormone therapies, Zytiga is the only therapy that reduces testosterone produced in the body at three different locations: the testes, the adrenal glands, and the prostate tumor.

Studies show that men who took Zytiga lived 3.9 months longer than those on a placebo. However, the drug comes with several common side effects such as cough, diarrhea, fluid retention, heartbeat disorders, high blood pressure, hot flashes, joint swelling, low potassium, muscle aches, respiratory infections, upset stomach, frequent urination, and urinary tract infections. Furthermore, prednisone taken together with Zytiga can be associated with immune system weakness, which makes patients more susceptible to infection.

Zytiga has the lowest cost of the three novel medications—$40,000 for an eight-month course of treatment. Most insurance companies and Medicare have coverage for Zytiga, and the manufacturer offers financial assistance for eligible patients.

Treating Metastasized Bone Tumors With Xofigo

The most recent prostate cancer treatment to gain Food and Drug Administration approval is Xofigo (radium-223), an injectable medication intended for hormone-resistant prostate cancers that have metastasized to bones but not other organs. Notably, Xofigo cannot be used together with chemotherapy.

The treatment contains radium, a heavy metal, which delivers shortwave radiation directly to bone tumors without causing harm to the surrounding tissues. Consequently, prostate cancer cells in the bones are killed. Xofigo is typically administered in six injections at four-week intervals.

Clinical trial participants taking Xofigo lived three months longer than those on a placebo. The treatment’s most common side effects are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and swelling of the ankles, legs, and feet.

The total cost of therapy for Xofigo is $69,000. Patients should check with their insurance companies to determine whether their coverage includes this new medication. If not, Bayer, the drug’s manufacturer, has patient assistance programs in place to help with the medication’s cost. Eligible patients with copayments and other expenses associated with taking Xofigo may also receive assistance from Bayer, who may provide the drug free of charge for uninsured patients and those whose insurance does not cover Xofigo.

Latest Prostate Cancer Treatments Offer Choices

The upside of recent advancements in prostate cancer treatment offers patients more choices than just a few years ago. From immunotherapy to testosterone suppression to medications that treat bone tumors, there now exists a wide range of treatments for patients with prostate cancer, allowing them to choose their therapies based on symptoms, coverage, and their doctor’s advice.