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Advanced Prostate Cancer Drug May Help at Earlier Stage
Date:5/17/2012

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- A drug approved to treat advanced prostate cancer appears to help men who have localized high-risk prostate cancer if given before surgery.

Adding Zytiga (abiraterone) to conventional hormonal treatments eliminated or nearly eliminated the prostate cancer in one-third of men with this often-lethal form, according to new research to be presented at next month's annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago.

"This is one of the first -- if not the first -- study to show that you can make prostate cancer in the prostate gland itself disappear in a reproducible number of patients," ASCO official Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang said at a Wednesday press conference.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, said, "This is exciting. It's a novel way to eliminate cancer before surgery."

However, Brooks, who was not involved in the study, cautioned that the findings were still preliminary and need further investigation.

Trying to shrink a tumor with chemotherapy and/or radiation before surgery is standard for other types of cancer, such as breast or colon, but hasn't to date shown a benefit in prostate cancer, study author Dr. Mary-Ellen Taplin, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, explained at the news conference.

Localized high-risk prostate cancer, which is defined as prostate cancer in men with a prostate-specific antigen level above 20, high-grade disease (a Gleason score of 8 or more), and stage T3 disease (indicating the tumor has spread through the prostate), carries with it a poor prognosis.

Standard hormonal therapy, which stops the production of male hormones (androgens), has not been shown to be effective in this type of cancer when given before
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