New and Improved Prostate Treatments
This year, close to 30,000 men will face a recurrence of prostate cancer. And half of them will likely die. But now doctors have found a new prostate cancer treatment to eliminate the disease.
Wayne Newstrom says he wouldn't be alive today if he hadn't found a doctor using a different way to deal with cancer of the prostate. Newstrom said, "My wife is all for this treatment, and likes it better than going into a surgery, and complications from surgery, plus possibly dying from surgery, plus possibly dying from surgery at my age."
Surgery to remove the prostate gland and radiation to kill the prostate cancer are the dominant forms of treatment for the affliction. But as often as not, the cancer comes back. And even when not, the patient is left with permanent side effects. Dr. Steven Tucker said, "You may minimize those side effects by going to the best in their field, but you will never eliminate those permanent side effects. And for younger men, you are talking about erectile dysfunction, urinary bother, urinary incontinence and, rarely, fecal bother and incontinence."
So what is this new treatment for prostate cancer?
Dr. Bob Leibowitz developed the treatment known as Triple Androgen Blockade, five years ago. Tucker joined him in that effort. The treatment uses three drugs to stop production of male hormones, also known as androgens. The primary androgen is the hormone testosterone and prostate cancer likes testosterone. Tucker said, "The tumor is fed by those male hormones. Blocking those hormones can reduce the amount of cancer in the body."
Patients remain on the cancer-reducing therapy for about a year. That duration is strategic. The treatment must be long enough to reduce the cancer to manageable levels, but not so long that the cancer is able to mutate into a nastier cancer called hormone-resistant disease. After the blockade treatment, patients go on a drug called Proscar. Proscar, also known as Finasteride, helps protect the body against the testosterone byproduct dihydrotestosterone also called DHT. DHT promotes cancer growth. Tucker does caution that blockade therapy has side effects, though he says patients tolerate them well and they go away after treatment.
Blockade side effects include:
-Loss of sexual desire
Meanwhile, Tucker and Leibowitz say they are always looking for even better treatment options, whatever they may be, especially if they're less invasive. One unusual approach has the doctors actually putting some selected patients on testosterone therapy, but only after the cancer has been minimized. Tucker remarked, "There's a good scientific rationale for saying high doses of testosterone will encourage the cancer cells to become better behaved, mature, normal cells."
With patients from around the world, other doctors want to join Dr. Tucker and Dr. Leibowitz in using the Triple Blockade. That could mean a wider application of this approach, and saving money besides. Tucker said, "Cost-effective studies have been done that show that hormone blockade is a cheap and effective way to manage the disease."
Tucker says the treatment is not just about longevity, but giving his patients the opportunity to enjoy life at a higher level. For some that means having the time to think through one's purpose in life and even reading about it. Wayne Newstrom has been reading the New York Times' best-selling book, "The Purpose-Driven Life."
With men like Wayne Newstrom keeping their cancer at bay, this may mark a new era in the battle against prostate cancer.