Advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer are saving more lives

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men in the United States aside from skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because prostate cancer is so common, the potential impact of each innovation by physicians and researchers has the power to benefit many men and their families. Over the last decade, advancements have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer that are saving more lives.

Detection: Improvements in biopsy techniques, such as magnetic resonance (MR) guided biopsies, have allowed cancers to be more reliably detected. Development of tests that look at the gene profile of prostate cancer cells can help determine the best treatment course for men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer. Advancements in imaging are paving the way to more clearly identifying sites of recurrence, so that more optimal localized therapy can be delivered even in patients whose disease is no longer localized to the prostate.

Therapies: Newer therapeutic options, in particular newer generation hormone therapies have enabled patients with metastatic disease (cancer spread outside the pelvis) to live significantly longer. Drugs, such as zoledronic acid and denosumab, which reduce risk of complications of prostate cancer in the bones have come into routine practice over the last decade. The role and timing of chemotherapies such as docetaxel and cabazitaxel have been increasingly optimized based on multiple studies conducted over the last few years. Radiopharmaceutical therapies, such as radium-223, allow radiation treatment to be delivered throughout the body by specifically targeting the cancer cells in the bones.

Identifying risk: Data collected over the last decade has made it clear that some men have a genetic predisposition to prostate cancer, though the majority of men still do not have an underlying gene mutation that can be inherited within families. However, for men that do have certain gene mutations in their cancer cells, such as BRCA2, the cancer cells can be targeted with a class of drugs called PARP inhibitors.

The latest: Amongst the newest advances in prostate cancer therapy is 177Lu-PSMA-671, which is comprised of a component that is radioactive, as well as a drug component that targets PSMA (a protein seen in many prostate cancer cells). This therapy has been found to be effective even in patients with advanced prostate cancer that has stopped responding to multiple prior therapies, though not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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