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3 New Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

May 22, 2008
The most common therapies for prostate cancer are surgical removal of the entire prostate gland, radiation treatment, and hormonal therapy.

All of these are highly effective, however, they can often lead to serious side effects that can downgrade quality of life by making erections difficult to achieve and causing loss of nightly urinary control. Fortunately, there are a few new treatments in the works that show promise.

One is an actual cancer vaccine called Provenge, which has shown an increase in survival times of men with prostate cancer as compared to a placebo in controlled studies.

The company that makes it, Dendreon, has sought FDA approval, and although the FDA has agreed that it appears to be a safe and effective drug, they have taken a long time in approving it, asking for more clinical trials.

The drug aims to teach the body's immune system how to find and fight cancer cells without hurting normal cells, and so far appears to do just that. If and when Provenge is approved it could be an excellent treatment option for all prostate cancer patients.

Another treatment in the works is a gene therapy called Ad5-TRAIL, which is a deactivated human cold virus (called an adenovirus) that carries the gene treatment to the area of the prostate cancer.

So far Ad5-TRAIL has shown promise, but researchers working on it say it is currently too early to make any conclusive statements about its effectiveness. It is currently in Phase I of clinical trials, and so is a bit far away from being on the market, but gene manipulation is a promising future treatment for all cancers, prostate included.

The third new treatment in the works is a form of cryosurgery colloquially known as "male lumpectomy" but officially called focal cryosurgery. Cryosurgery has been around for awhile, and consists of the surgeon injecting cold argon into the prostate gland destroying the cells. It has always had a better recovery rate than surgeries involving cutting, and less side effects as well.

The new focal version of cryotherapy adds new accuracy with even less chance of such side effects as impotence and urinary incontinence.

The procedure has successfully treated 95% of those with prostate cancer in trials, and 80% walk away with no impotence or incontinence, a blessing for those faced with prostate cancer. The treatment is also outpatient, so patients don't have to face an extended hospital stay, however, it is generally only aimed at early stage prostate cancer as it consists of destroying only a small tumor confined to the prostate gland.

This treatment is currently only performed at a few places outside of research centers, such as Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina.

While current prostate cancer treatment is effective and many illnesses are caught on time and treated successfully, there is room for improvement due to the serious side effects of erectile dysfunction and bladder control problems that are so common. Fortunately, some of these new therapies show hopeful promise for those with prostate cancer.
About the Author
James Culp is a prostate cancer survivor and runs ProstAide.org, a blog that keeps track of all the latest prostate cancer treatment options available.
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