Reason for hope
A message from Editor in Chief Marc B. Garnick, M.D.
Aside from the initial diagnosis of prostate cancer, learning that he has androgen-independent prostate cancer — disease that no longer responds to first-line hormone therapy medications — is perhaps the most devastating news for a patient. A decade ago, it meant that the patient was running out of treatment options; cancer was winning the war. But with new drugs on the market and in clinical trials, that same patient has many more choices today, including second-line hormone therapies and chemotherapy. Science has given us reason for hope.
We devote two articles in this issue of Perspectives to androgen-independent prostate cancer, also called hormone-refractory prostate cancer. In our roundtable discussion, three experts who practice at hospitals affiliated with Harvard Medical School explain how the disease progresses to an androgen-independent state, possible treatments, and why the diagnosis is not as bleak as it once was. We also talk with a patient who has participated in several trials of investigational therapies for androgen-independent prostate cancer, one of which caused unexpected and life-threatening side effects — a risk of investigational drug studies. In spite of that experience, he remains a staunch advocate of clinical trials.