Prostate cancer deaths' dropping, thanks to more drug options
Posted December 5, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Apart from melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the U.S. Statistics show incidences and deaths from prostate cancer are dropping significantly, thanks to more drug options that may allow men to live longer and with a greater quality of life.
Seven years ago, Arthur Farris was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His Gleason Score – a way of determining the extent of the disease and survivability – was elevated.
“(It) was up around 7 or 8 and indicating that it had actually spread and everything,” he said.
Farris joined a drug trial at Duke Cancer Center for a drug called MDV3100, now known by the brand name Xtandi. It blocks the male hormone receptor.
“It was approved because men lived longer and had a very good quality of life while they were on the drug,” said Duke surgical oncologist Dr. Andrew Armstrong.
The Food and Drug Administration had first approved the drug for men with advanced prostate cancer and who failed chemotherapy. Farris was in a more recent trial for earlier use of the drug before chemotherapy.
“I think you'll see through Mr. Farris' eyes that he's done very well, and the trial was recently reported as being positive for survival, which is really the gold standard for all oncology – to extend life as long as possible,” Armstrong said.
So what does this drug mean for men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer?
“The PREVAIL Trial results expand the drug options that doctors have for patients, and it helps them know which ones to use and in what order,” said WRAL Health Team physician Dr. Allen Mask. “Xtandi is considered safe with a very low incidence of complications. It's four pills a day, and men can stay on it for many years with a good quality of life. Being able to give it before chemotherapy helps patients delay or avoid all the well-known side effects of chemo, like feeling sick, nauseated and tired. It's a very positive advance in prostate cancer care.”