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New Treatment Approach can Boost Survival Rates from Prostate Cancer

Update Date: Jun 02, 2014 09:40 AM EDT
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According to a new study, a new kind of treatment approach has the potential to boost survival rates for men diagnosed with prostate cancer. The researchers reported that supplementing standard hormone-depletion therapy with chemotherapy drug, docetaxel could be an effective way to extend the lifespan of prostate cancer patients.

"Hormone therapy has been a standard treatment for prostate cancer since the 1950s," lead author Christopher Sweeney, a medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, stated according to Philly. "This is the first study to identify a strategy that prolongs survival in newly diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer," he added. "The benefit is substantial and warrants this being a new standard treatment for men who have [extensive] disease and are fit for chemotherapy."

For this study, the team led by the U.S. National Cancer Institute recruited 790 patients with advanced hormone-sensitive prostate cancer. The men were divided into two groups. The first group was treated with hormone therapy and the second group was treated with a combination of hormone therapy and docetaxel. Treatments lasted 18 weeks.

At the first follow-up, which took place a little over two-years later, 136 patients from the hormone therapy-only group died. In the hormone therapy with docetaxel group, a total of 101 people died. The researchers calculated that the median survival rates for the hormone therapy-only group and the hormone therapy plus docetaxel group were 44 months and 57.6 months respectively.

The researchers concluded that adding docetaxel helped delay cancer progression. The median times it took for the cancer to progress after treatment were 19.8 months and 32.7 months in the hormone therapy-only group and the hormone therapy plus docetaxel group respectively.

"These results demonstrate how we can use 'old tools' in new, more powerful ways to improve and extend patients' lives," ASCO President Dr. Clifford Hudis said. "This study is also a powerful testimony to the importance of National Cancer Institute-led research, as both of these drugs are available in generic form today and this research might have otherwise not been pursued."

The study was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) yearly meeting in Chicago, IL.

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