Living With Prostate Cancer

Study investigates treatment regret among prostate cancer survivors

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Charles Schmidt As they get older, do men with prostate cancer come to regret the treatment decisions they made? A new study of men diagnosed during the mid-1990s indicates that some of them will. Richard Hoffman, a professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, […]

Combination hormonal therapy boosts survival in men with aggressive prostate cancer

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Charlie Schmidt A standard approach for treating aggressive prostate cancer is to give therapies that block testosterone, a tumor-stimulating hormone. Should initial hormonal therapies fail, doctors can switch to other drugs that suppress testosterone in different ways. One of them, a drug called abiraterone, has been shown to significantly extend lifespans in men who have […]

Yoga improves treatment-related symptoms in men with prostate cancer

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Charlie Schmidt Decades of research show that yoga can reduce the emotional and physical fatigue brought on by cancer treatment. Now researchers have shown for the first time that’s also true specifically for men being treated for prostate cancer. Men who took a yoga class twice a week during treatment reported less fatigue, fewer sexual […]

Combining surgery, radiation, and hormonal therapy dramatically extends survival in men with advanced prostate cancer

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Charlie Schmidt In April, scientists reported encouraging results from a pilot study of men with metastatic prostate cancer, or cancer that has spread beyond the prostate gland. Long considered incurable, these advanced cancers are usually treated by giving men systemic drugs that target new tumors forming in the body. The scientists who led this new […]

Adding hormonal therapy to radiation lengthens survival in men with recurring prostate cancer

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

High-grade cancer that’s still confined to the prostate is generally treated surgically. But a third of the men who have their cancerous prostates removed will experience a rise in blood levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). This is called PSA recurrence. And since detectable PSA could signal the cancer’s return, doctors will often treat it by […]

New study recommends immediate radiation when PSA Levels spike after prostate cancer surgery

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Following surgery to remove a cancerous prostate gland, some men experience a biochemical recurrence, meaning that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) has become detectable in their blood. Since only the prostate releases PSA, removing the gland should drop this protein to undetectable levels in the body. Detecting PSA could signify that prostate cancer cells are lingering, and […]

Treatment versus monitoring of prostate cancer: Survival rates the same after 10 years

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Charles Schmidt A pair of new studies provides useful information to men facing challenging decisions about what to do after being diagnosed with early prostate cancer. Researchers tracked men for 10 years and found that virtually none died of the illness, even if they decided against treating it. Early prostate tumors confined to the prostate […]

Treating the primary tumor can improve survival in men whose prostate cancer has spread

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

New research has shaken up a time-honored strategy for treating advanced prostate cancer that’s begun to metastasize, or spread. Doctors ordinarily treat these cases with systemic therapies designed to kill off metastatic tumors appearing throughout the body. But they don’t use local therapy to treat the primary tumor in the prostate. That’s because the primary tumor — unlike the metastases that it spawns — is rarely lethal. So doctors have been reluctant to give local therapy, such as radiation to the prostate or surgery to remove the organ, if it’s not going to improve the odds of survival. Now investigators are turning that assumption on its head. According to their findings, men who received local therapy while being treated for metastatic prostate cancer lived longer than those who didn’t, “and that makes a case for being more aggressive in how we manage patients who present with metastatic disease,” said Dr. Chad Rusthoven, a radiation oncologist and assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, and the study’s first author.

Long-term hormonal therapy benefits men with locally advanced prostate cancer

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Hormonal therapy, also known as androgen-deprivation therapy, can be a powerful weapon in the fight against prostate cancer because it deprives malignant cells of the fuel they need to grow. Androgens — meaning the family of male sex hormones that includes testosterone — contribute to physical characteristics such as a deeper voice, thick facial hair, and increased muscle strength and bone mass. But when prostate cancer develops, testosterone also contributes to tumor growth and progression. Depending on the specific treatment used, hormonal therapy can either stop the body from making testosterone or prevent it from interacting with cancer cells.

Active surveillance is safe for low-risk prostate cancers

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

A new study confirms that active surveillance is a safe and reasonable alternative to immediate treatment for prostate cancer. In recently published study that followed 1,300 men, the prostate cancer survival rate after 10-15 years of active surveillance, was 99%. For some men, a strong discomfort with “living with cancer” may steer them away from postponing treatment in favor of careful monitoring.