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Prostate Cancer & Testosterone Study for Cancer Treatments

While testosterone has commonly been regarded as a contributor to prostate cancer, a recent study by John Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center has evidence that the male hormone has the ability to suppress prostate cancer. Samuel Denmeade, M.D., the medical oncologist who led the study, explains that the treatment ordinarily prescribed to patients whose cancer spreads is androgen deprivation therapy, usually a combination of drugs that both block testosterone production and receptors. This treatment can end up making the prostate cancer more aggressive over time and cause severe side effects. “It’s the one that’s the most resistant, and typically once people progress to this stage it’s when we start to worry that they’re at a much higher risk for dying from prostate cancer.”

Paradoxical Treatment for Prostate Cancer

Denmeade’s study was designed around the idea that prostate cancer cells might be killed by hormone shock when flooded with testosterone. Might make the cells susceptible to androgen deprivation therapy. The study featured 16 men who had previously underwent at least one form of androgen deprivation therapy and had rising levels of the blood marker that indicates prostate cancer. Of the 16, the metastatic cancer could be measured through imaging scans in 10 of them. The PSA of all 10 men reduced, and half of them experienced significant tumor shrinkage.

Continuing Research for Prostate Cancer

The findings of this very small study has sparked interest in the new treatment; more studies at John Hopkins are being planned, as well at other hospitals. “We have plenty of anecdotes and some evidence in this small study, but it’s important to test it in larger groups of patients,” Denmeade explains. While new studies give us hope that there will be better, more effective cancer treatments, there is often still a financial worry for people with prostate cancer. Treatments are often very costly.

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