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This is the prostate cancer blog archive page for news stories from 2009.  Visit the current blog

Antibody Shows Promise for Prostate Cancer

Researchers have identified an mAb (a monoclonal antibody called F77) that is capable of binding to a cell surface antigen specifically expressed on both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate cancer cells in mice. The results of the study (by Zhang et al), were published earlier this month online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. While the study results are promising (if it truly has the potential to only target cancer cells, and not healthy cells, tissues, or organs), it is important to bear in mind that this research was conducted in animal studies. Until it is proven to be effective in large-scale human studies, it cannot be considered to be a viable treatment for prostate cancer. Read the study abstract at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/12/15/0911397107.abstract. December 31, 2009.

Robotic-assisted Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy More Costly

Retropubic radical prostatectomy and laparoscopic radical prostatectomy cost less than robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, according to a new study by Bolenz et al, which was published in European Urology).

Direct and component costs were compared in this study of 643 men (262 men had robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, 220 men had laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, and 161 men had retropubic radical prostatectomy). Not surprisingly, the average length of a man's hospital stay was higher for retropubic radical prostatectomy than for laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. The median direct cost of robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, however, was $6,752 (median is the number that falls in the middle of the full range of the numbers, which in this case was $6,283 to $7,369). For laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, the median direct cost was $5,687 (the range was $4,941 to $5,905). And for retropubic radical prostatectomy, the median direct cost was $4,437 (the range was from $3,989 to $5,141). Surgical supply cost was higher for robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy ($2,015 vs $725 for laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and $185 for retropubic radical prostatectomy). Operating room cost was also higher for robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy ($2,798 vs $2,453 for laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and $1,611 for retropubic radical prostatectomy). Read the abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19931979.
December 20, 2009.

Beer for Prostate Cancer?

More news from the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference includes the use of the natural compound xanthohumol (a flavonoid found in hops, which is used to make beer) to block the effects of the male hormone testosterone in the hope it can aid in prostate cancer prevention. Researchers are first looking to prove that xanthohumol prevents prostate cancer in laboratory and animal tests, before moving on to human studies. Hormone-dependent prostate cancer cells were stimulated with testosterone, which resulted in a massive secretion of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). After the cells were treated with testosterone and xanthohumol, researchers noted that xanthohumol inhibited the cells from secreting PSA. Read more at: http://www.aacr.org/home/public--media/aacr-press-releases.aspx?d=1670. December 10, 2009.

Coffee and Advanced Prostate Cancer

Another interesting finding presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference is that there may be a relationship between regular coffee consumption and the risk of advanced prostate cancer.

In a prospective investigation (a research effort that follows over time groups of individuals who are similar in some respects), researchers found that those men who drank the most java had a 60 percent lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer than the men who did not drink any coffee. Coffee contains many biologically active compounds, including antioxidants and minerals, and researchers aren't sure which ingredients may be the most beneficial. More studies are needed before men rush to increase their coffee consumption. Read more at: http://www.aacr.org/home/public--media/aacr-press-releases.aspx?d=1685. December 8, 2009.

Exercise and Prostate Cancer

A new study that assessed physical activity levels of 2,686 men with prostate cancer suggests that men who exercise as little as 15 minutes a day may reduce their risk of death. According to findings presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, men who engaged in three or more hours of "metabolic equivalent tasks" a week (equivalent to jogging, biking, swimming or playing tennis for about a half-hour per week) had a 35 percent lower risk of overall mortality. Read more at: http://www.aacr.org/home/public--media/aacr-press-releases.aspx?d=1684. December 8, 2009.

Can Statins Lower More Than Cholesterol in Men With Prostate Cancer?

A new study by Loeb et al suggests that statins (drugs primarily used to lower cholesterol) may reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Researchers looked at the records of 1351 men (504 of which were taking statins) who had radical prostatectomy. The men who were taking statins were significantly older and had a higher mean body mass index than the men who were not taking statins. Researchers found that PSA levels prior to surgery, tumor volume, and the percentage of cancer found in specimens removed during surgery were significantly lower in the men who were taking statins. They also found that the men taking statins had a significantly lower risk of positive (cancerous) surgical margins. Dec 2, 2009.

Study: Women More Likely To Stand by Their Men

Reuters Life reports on a study that suggests that a woman may be more likely to stick with her man when he is facing a serious illness like cancer or multiple sclerosis. On the down side, men may be less likely to stand by women with the same illnesses. The study, which was conducted by the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Stanford University School of Medicine, followed 515 men and women from 2001 and 2002 until 2006. The separation or divorce rate among women who either had a malignant primary brain tumor, a solid tumor with no central nervous system involvement, or multiple sclerosis was six times higher than men with these conditions. Read more at: http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSTRE5AB0C520091112. Nov 17, 2009.

What’s Age Got to Do With Surgery and Risk of Recurrence?

A retrospective analysis of men who had radical prostatectomy from 1988 to 2008 (Barlow et al in BJU Int. Oct 26, 2009 [Epub ahead of print]) suggests that younger men (age 40 to 64) who undergo radical prostatectomy have a lower rate of prostate cancer recurrence than older men (age 65 or more). The study looked at two groups of men. The first group of 1325 men aged 40 to 64 years had 5-year recurrence-free survival (RFS) rates of 80.6%. The second group of 659 men who were greater than or equal to 65 years of age had RFS rates of 75.6%. Recurrence was defined as a single PSA level of greater than or equal to 0.2 ng/mL at least 28 days after surgery. The study authors concluded, however, that age alone is not a predictor of recurrence when accounting for PSA level, grade, and stage of prostate cancer. Read more at:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19863523?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.
Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=211?s_cid=pubmed. Nov 27, 2009.

Study: Aspirin and Prostate Cancer Recurrence

Results of a study by Choe et al, have demonstrated that the use of anti-clotting drugs (aspirin, Coumadin, and Plavix) appears to lower the chance of prostate cancer recurrence in men who also received radiation treatment, according to news reports by Web MD and Medscape Today. The study involved 662 men with prostate cancer who had external beam radiation or brachytherapy from 1988 to 2005. Approximately four years after treatment, cancer recurrence was reported in 9% of men taking an anti-clotting drug (versus 22% of men who did not). But the three drugs were not analyzed separately. Internal bleeding is a risk of anti-clotting drugs (including aspirin) so no man should start taking these drugs without first consulting his physician. Coumadin and Plavix have also been associated with rectal bleeding in men receiving radiation treatment. While this initial study is encouraging, more studies are needed to confirm the potential role of anti-clotting drugs in prostate cancer treatment. Nov 12, 2009.

Study: Chemo-Radiation Prior to Surgery

Other news from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting this week includes results of a very small, two-year study of 12 men that suggests that a combination of radiation and chemotherapy (docetaxel) prior to surgery may have the potential to reduce cancer recurrence and improve patient survival in men with aggressive prostate cancer. Each man was given intensity-modulated radiation therapy and increasing doses of docetaxel for five weeks prior to surgical removal of the prostate gland. An Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute press release states that the researchers (who were also from the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center) base their conclusion on the fact that cancer margins post-surgery were clean in 75 percent of men, which was higher than they expected, and PSA levels were undetectable. Nov 5, 2009.

Study: Who Benefits From Short-Term Hormone Therapy Plus Radiation

Medical News Today is reporting results from a large randomized trial of 1,979 men who had cancer confined to the prostate, and a PSA less than or equal to 20. Results suggest that short-term hormone therapy administered before and during intermediate dose radiation therapy provides a small but significant survival benefit for men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer, compared to men who receive radiation alone. The results of this Radiation Therapy Oncology Group study were presented November 2, 2009 at the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting. The article concludes, however, that there was no benefit from dual treatment in the group of men with low-risk cancer. The article does not define what parameters were used to classify men as low-risk versus intermediate risk. Hopefully, this information will be provided when the full study results are published. Read the article at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/169649.php. Nov 3, 2009.

WAPC Launches Intimacy Fact Sheet

Women Against Prostate Cancer has developed an intimacy fact sheet titled: "Prostate Cancer Sexual & Intimacy: Everything You Wanted to Know But Didn't Know to Ask". You can download it for free by visiting: http://womenagainstprostatecancer.org/intimacy.php. Oct 22, 2009.

How Are Physicians Addressing Quality of Life Issues?

According to results of a study by Sonn et al, which appears in the November issue of The Journal of Urology, urologists inform men about potential problems in urinary and sexual function following treatment for prostate cancer (prostatectomy, brachytherapy or external beam radiation therapy) more often than they inform them about fatigue or pain. The study authors noted that in men treated for localized prostate cancer, physician ratings of symptoms did not match men's self-assessments of health-related quality of life. The Journal of Urology Editor, William D. Steers, commented that from 2001 to 2007, there was a 16% difference for sexual function and a 22% difference for incontinence reporting between men and their physicians. However, for fatigue, pain, and bowel problems the difference was nearly 50%. Read more at:http://www.jurology.com/article/S0022-5347%2809%2901756-X/abstract. Oct 20, 2009.

Read Before Rushing Into Robotic Surgery

While men who undergo minimally invasive approaches (like robotic-assisted surgery for prostate removal) may experience shorter hospital stays and fewer respiratory problems, surgical complications, and strictures, they experience more genitourinary complications, erectile dysfunction, and incontinence, according to a study by Hu et al, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. As we've reported previously, it has been suggested that a surgeon must perform at least 250 open radical prostatectomies to become proficient in the technique versus 750 laparoscopic surgeries. Several months back, a USA Today article reported that doctors who are used to performing traditional surgery have a harder time learning keyhole techniques than novice surgeons who are learning to perform the procedure for the first time. Despite being "newer" and "less invasive," robotic-assisted surgery still requires the utmost skill of the surgeon performing it. If your surgeon is suggesting you take this route, make sure he or she isn't still learning how to do it! http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/302/14/1557. Oct 15, 2009.

Low Gleason Score Doesn’t Always Mean Low Risk

A low Gleason score at biopsy is not always a predictor of low-risk disease, according to a study by Isbarn et al published September 14 in the online edition of BJUI. The study looked at 1106 men with PSA levels ≤10 ng/mL, and a biopsy Gleason score of ≤3+3 or 3+4, who had open radical prostatectomy. Men with 2 or less positive biopsy cores were put into a low-risk group, and men with 3 or more positive biopsy cores were put into a high-risk group. The percentage of positive biopsy cores were also factored in (<50% or ≥50%). The pathological stage and the 5-year biochemical recurrence (BCR)-free survival rates were then examined. Read more at: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122596936/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0. Oct 8, 2009.

Study: Less Distress but More Depression for Older Men with Prostate Cancer

Aging is related to less distress and less anxiety in men with prostate cancer, but is associated with greater symptoms of depression, according to a new study by Nelson et al. The study, which appears in the September issue of The Oncologist, analyzed data from two questionnaires, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and a Distress Thermometer. The ages of the 716 men included in the study ranged from 50 to 93 years, with a mean age of 68. Results suggest that while older men with prostate cancer may appear to cope better than younger men with the disease, there may actually be an increased risk for depression in older men. Read more at: http://theoncologist.alphamedpress.org/cgi/content/abstract/14/9/891. Oct 6, 2009.

Adjuvant Radiation and Sexual Function

A wife recently asked us about the effects of adjuvant radiation (radiation treatment right after radical prostatectomy) on sexual functioning. As fate would have it, we came across an article by Wittmann et al, which appears in the current issue of the International Journal of Impotence Research. The article does a nice job of reviewing the clinical research studies on this topic (which are really only beginning to emerge). It also highlights the need for counseling couples about sexual health when considering post-prostatectomy radiation treatment (something we wish physicians would do for all treatments for prostate cancer). The authors conclude that while radiation (whether adjuvant or salvage) may negatively affect erectile function (and they point out that the evidence for this is uneven and sometimes contradictory), if it prevents cancer recurrence or the need for hormone therapy, then it is something to be considered in men with a high risk of disease recurrence. Read the full article here: http://www.nature.com/ijir/journal/v21/n5/pdf/ijir200932a.pdf. Sep 29, 2009.

Protein May Help Predict Aggressive Cancer

The big news this week is that small heat shock protein Hsp-27 may be useful in predicting how aggressive prostate cancer may be when a man is first diagnosed, according to a laboratory study by Foster et al, which was published in the British Journal of Cancer. The study authors believe that this protein, or biomarker, can be used to predict if prostate cancer will continue to progress, and help determine if a man requires immediate treatment. More research will most likely follow, however, before men will be widely tested for the presence of this protein. You can find the study abstract here:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/pubmed/19707199. Sep 24, 2009.

New Women Against Prostate Cancer Chapter Formed

Women Against Prostate Cancer (WAPC) has partnered with Roswell Park Cancer Institute to establish the Western New York Chapter of Women Against Prostate Cancer.

The Western New York Chapter of WAPC will hold meetings the third Wednesday of each month, beginning in September. The meetings are open to all women, regardless of where your loved one was treated or your relationship to him. To learn more, visit: http://www.prostatepros.com/WAPC. Sep 22, 2009.

Study: Hormone Therapy Plus Radiation Posed Risk For Men With Heart Disease

The August 26th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association includes results of a single-center study of 5,077 men with localized or locally advanced prostate cancer who received hormone therapy in addition to brachytherapy. Those men who had existing heart disease (such as coronary artery disease-induced congestive heart failure or a previous heart attack), were at higher risk of death than men with no heart disease or a single risk factor for coronary artery disease. Read more here: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/302/8/866?home. Aug 27, 2009.

Pot for Prostate Cancer?

Certain active chemicals in cannabis (called cannabinoids) have been shown to stop prostate cancer cells from growing in laboratory mice, according to new research published in the British Journal of Cancer. But this work is still very preliminary, and researchers warn that it definitely does not mean that men should rush out and starting smoking marijuana. Read more here: http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v101/n6/abs/6605248a.html. Aug 25, 2009.

Study: Bisphosphonate Benefited Men With Metastatic Prostate Cancer

A British study by Dearnaley et al (covered in the August 11 online edition of The Lancet) reports that men with metastatic prostate cancer who took oral sodium clodronate (a bisphosphonate used to slow development of symptoms of bone metastases) while undergoing long-term hormone therapy had an improved survival rate. The study looked at 311 men with metastatic prostate cancer and 508 men with non-metastatic disease. There was no survival benefit reported in men with non-metastatic disease. Read more here: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045%2809%2970201-3/abstract. Aug 20, 2009.

New Studies Show Promise For Denosumab

This week Amgen Inc. announced the publication of results from two Phase 3 studies investigating the safety and effectiveness of denosumab in reducing fracture risk in more than 1,400 men with non-metastatic prostate cancer who had androgen deprivation therapy leading to bone loss (researchers also studied more than 7,800 women with postmenopausal osteoporosis). Both studies appear in The New England Journal of Medicine. Amgen reports that patients who received denosumab twice a year had significant increases in bone mineral density compared to placebo (no treatment). There was also more than a 60 percent reduction in vertebral fracture in both men and women. Denosumab is the first fully human monoclonal antibody that specifically targets RANK Ligand, an essential regulator of cells that break down bone (called osteoclasts). It is in the late stage of clinical development and is awaiting FDA approval. Aug 13, 2009.

Study: Few Men Die 15 Years After Radical Prostatectomy

A study reported by Stephenson et al in this month's Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests that few men (12%) will die from prostate cancer within 15 years of having radical prostatectomy, even with the presence of adverse clinical features. The study analyzed 12,677 men who had radical prostatectomy between 1987 and 2005. The authors state that this encouraging prognosis is either related to the effectiveness of radical prostatectomy (with or without secondary therapy) or due to the low risk of death from screen-detected prostate cancers. Aug 1, 2009.

Insomnia, Depression and Stress Common With Prostate Cancer

An article by Dirksen et al in the August issue of Applied Nursing Research reports on a study that explored insomnia and its relationship to depression and distress in 51 men with prostate cancer. Results from a questionnaire indicated that many men had insomnia and depression with a moderate level of distress. Younger men and men receiving radiation therapy were at greater risk. Clinically significant insomnia was reported by 53 percent of the men. Forty-five percent had difficulty initiating sleep and 55 percent had trouble staying sleep. Fifty-one percent of men had clinically significant depression. Half of the men with clinically significant insomnia also had clinically significant depression. Jul 21, 2009.

Is Brachytherapy Enough for High-Risk Disease?

The July 13 early online issue of Journal of Clinical Oncology has an article by D'Amico et al, who estimate that men who have aggressive prostate cancer and undergo brachytherapy (internal radiation seeds) as their sole treatment are more likely to die of prostate cancer than men who combine brachytherapy with androgen suppression therapy and external beam radiation. The study authors looked at prostate cancer death rates in 1,342 men who were considered to have high-risk cancer (PSA level >20 ng/mL and clinical T3 or 4 and/or Gleason score 8 to 10) and were expected to live for at least 10 years. Read more here: http://jco.ascopubs.org/cgi/content/abstract/JCO.2008.20.3992v1. Jul 16, 2009.

Homing Device for Prostate Cancer

Science Daily reports that Purdue University researchers have synthesized a molecule that is capable of finding and penetrating prostate cancer cells, which may be helpful for "carrying" a drug that specifically targets prostate cancer cells. Read more here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090706161306.htm. Jul 7, 2009.

Vaccine Studied for Advanced Prostate Cancer

Authors of a review article (Maden et al) in Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs report that preliminary clinical trials have indicated negligible toxicity with PROSTVAC, a therapeutic vaccine that is moving into late stage clinical development. The authors also report that Phase II trials have suggested a survival benefit with the vaccine, especially in men whose prostate cancer appears to be slow-growing. PROSTVAC works by inducing a specific, targeted immune response that attacks prostate cancer cells. Additional studies are underway. Jul 2, 2009.

Why You Should Always Ask For Test Results

Never assume that no news is good news after having any medical test. A new study reveals that physicians either failed to report clinically significant abnormal test results to their patients (or they did not document that they informed them) in one out of every 14 cases of abnormal test results. In some medical groups, the failure rate is close to zero, however, in others it is as high as one in four when there are abnormal test results. Read more here: http://news.med.cornell.edu/wcmc/wcmc_2009/06_22_09.shtml. Jun 25, 2009.

Green Tea and Prostate Cancer Progression

A component of green tea may hold promise in preventing prostate cancer progression, according to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research. In the study, 26 men with prostate cancer (aged 41 to 72) took the investigational agent Polyphenon E four times a day, (similar to drinking 12 cups of green tea) for 12 to 73 days. Investigators reported significant reductions in the men's serum levels of markers predictive of prostate cancer progression (more than 30% in some men). While promising, we must caution that this was a very small study and larger studies are needed. Men should consult with their doctors before drinking large amounts of green tea or taking green tea supplements, as green tea can interfere with some treatments, such as chemotherapy. Jun 22, 2009.

Study Suggests All Cancer Patients Should Be Checked For Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency was found to be prevalent in cancer patients regardless of nutritional status, according to the results of a recent study conducted at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). Based on these results, CTCA researchers determined that screening for vitamin D deficiency and aggressive vitamin D repletion should be considered for all people with cancer. Read more here: http://news.prnewswire.com/ViewContent.aspx?ACCT=109&STORY=/www/story/06-15-2009/0005043865&EDATE=. Jun 16, 2009.

New Way of Treating Recurrent Prostate Cancer May Be On the Horizon

A new study shows that an alpha-particle emitting radiopeptide (radioactive material bound to a synthetic peptide, a component of protein) is effective for treating prostate cancer in mice, according to researchers at the Society of Nuclear Medicine's 56th Annual Meeting in Toronto. The study results could eventually lead to a breakthrough in prostate cancer treatment, especially for men whose cancer recurs after the prostate is surgically removed. You can read the SNM press release at: http://interactive.snm.org/index.cfm?PageID=8781&RPID=8729. Jun 16, 2009.

Study Details Quality of Life for Prostate Cancer Patients Four Years Out From Treatment

A long-term study by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center found that the three most common treatments for localized prostate cancer had significant impacts on patients' quality of life, a finding that could help guide doctors and patients in making treatment decisions. Read more here: http://www.cancer.ucla.edu/index.aspx?recordid=257&page=644. Jun 11, 2009.

Some Dietary Supplements Can Be Dangerous

Hormonal components in over-the-counter dietary supplements may promote the progression of prostate cancer and decrease the effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered.

The findings, which appear in today's issue of Clinical Cancer Research, reaffirm that patients should inform their doctors about any herbal or hormonal dietary supplements they are taking or considering taking. The researchers also recommend that documentation of supplement usage become part of routine health assessments for all patients, particularly cancer patients. Read more here: http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/utsw/cda/dept353744/files/437809.html. Jun 9, 2009.

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