Immunotherapy Remains Hope for Future Prostate Cancer Treatments
As immunotherapy drugs demonstrate great promise for treating such cancers as lung during clinical trials, the news hasn’t been quite a stellar for similar drugs meant to battle prostate cancer. Researchers, however, say results are beginning to change in a positive direction. Someday down the road, in fact, it is hoped this avenue for treatment may become quite viable for use with prostate cancers.
Immunotherapy involves the use of drugs that are designed to entice the body’s own immune system into fighting off cancer. Unlike chemotherapy, which is unable to discriminate between healthy and diseased cells, immunotherapy tends to spare the body from collateral damage. Although some side effects may still exist, with some of them being harsh, immunotherapy is often less toxic on the body than chemotherapy.
While clinical trials for some immunotherapy drugs, such as those meant to treat lung cancer, have shown marked improvements and results better than chemo in some cases, the road to a viable treatment for prostate cancer has been relatively rocky. A recent phase two study involving a prostate cancer immunotherapy drug has produced encouraging results. Researchers say the trial showed effectiveness for use as a single-agent and combination treatment. Even so, the toxicity rate was higher than desired.
Although the study’s results won’t necessarily pave the way for immediate access to a new immunotherapy drug for prostate cancer treatment, the forward momentum is good news. As researchers are also investigating potential immunotherapeutic vaccines to safeguard against this form of cancer, unlocking the potential of the body’s immune system may very well be the key to beating this disease.
It is estimated that some 160,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the coming year. About 26,000 men will die from the disease. Often highly treatable when detected in its earliest phases, prostate cancer consequently has a strong survival rate. Known to be rather slow growing in nature, prostate cancer often does enable patients to select from a diversity of treatments. In some cases, nothing more than monitoring may be required. Work on the immunological front, however, may one day open the door to highly effective, low impact ways to prevent and/or treat this condition entirely.
Since all men are at risk for prostate cancer as they age, it is recommended that men approaching middle age speak with their doctors about this condition. Understanding personal risks is important for ensuring that potentially lifesaving screening exams are sought out on a routine basis. Prostate cancer may often present as low-risk, but that is not always the case. That makes early detection critical.