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New Drug Appears to Extend Survival in Advanced Prostate Cancer Patients
Date:8/16/2012

p>Whether the drug will cause side effects like those seen with regular hormone therapy isn't yet known, Scher said. That's something the current trials may reveal.

The possible side effects can reduce patient's quality of life and include constipation or diarrhea, nausea, loss of or decrease in appetite, dizziness or headache, trouble sleeping, impotence, and decreased sex drive.

Enzalutamide is a type of hormonal therapy that, through another pathway, acts like traditional hormone therapy. It was created to help men who develop resistance to regular hormone therapy and go on to develop an aggressive cancer called castration-resistant prostate cancer, the most advanced form of the disease, Scher said.

Researchers found that men build resistance to hormone therapy because the tumor increases the production of androgen (a male hormone) receptors, he added.

Enzalutamide binds to androgen receptors in cancer cells, blocking the ability of these receptors to promote cancer growth, Scher explained.

If approved, enzalutamide would join a similar drug, abiraterone (Zytiga), as a new treatment for prostate cancer that is resistant to traditional hormone therapy.

Although it is too early to know how much enzalutamide will cost, the wholesale cost of abiraterone is about $5,000 a month, according to Bloomberg News. The retail cost is, of course, higher.

"This is good news for men with advanced prostate cancer," said Dr. Anthony D'Amico, chief of radiation oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"It's likely a drug that will be FDA approved," he said.

D'Amico cautioned, however, that if the drug is used in men with early prostate cancer who are prone to seizures, it needs to be carefully monitored.

"The bottom line is, it's good news," D'Amico said. "I predict in the next five to seven years we will be using drugs like this as opposed to what we currently use to treat men with earlier-stage disease."
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