New Treatments For Prostate Cancer

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Researchers
and doctors are always looking for more effective and alternative
treatments for prostate cancer. New prostate cancer treatment research
is going on in several areas at present.

PROSTATE CANCER — NEW TREATMENT BY RADIOTHERAPY

Research
is continuing to try and improve technology and techniques to allow
radiotherapy to the prostate gland to be more effective and to have
fewer side effects. One way is to reduce the amount of radiation
received by normal organs (bladder, bowel etc) and this has been
improving over the last few years with better machines and techniques
such as “conformal radiotherapy” and “IMRT”.

Work
is also being carried out on combining brachytherapy with external
therapy to allow some of the benefits of brachytherapy (fewer side
effects, higher overall dose to the prostate cancer) to be used for men
with more advanced prostate cancer without compromising the chance of
cure.

NEW HORMONE THERAPY FOR PROSTATE CANCER

Some
newer prostate cancer hormone treatments have fewer side effects than
older hormone based drugs. Some are also felt to be more effective. All
the time researchers are testing to try and find the best hormone
tablets or injections for use in prostate cancer.

Other
research is going on to try and work out the best time to give hormone
treatment in prostate cancer and whether it is best to combine this
treatment with other types of treatments such as chemotherapy or
radiotherapy. Trials are currently being run to answer these questions
and the results should be available in the next few years.

IMPROVEMENTS IN CHEMOTHERAPY TREATMENT FOR PROSTATE CANCER

In
the past prostate cancer did not respond very well to chemotherapy
drugs. However now there are newer drugs which are more powerful against
prostate cancer and these have started to be used with more frequency
in late prostate cancer which has already spread to other organs and
which has become resistant to hormone treatments. The best drug found so
far is Docetaxel injection,
a new type of chemotherapy drug. It has several side effects including
hair loss, nausea and risk of infection. Doctors are now looking to see
if Docetaxel would work even better as a combination with other drugs.

USE OF BISPHOSPHONATE DRUGS FOR PROSTATE CANCER TREATMENT

These
are a group of drugs which are most often used in treating
osteoporosis. It has been recently found that they can also help reduce
pain associated with cancer deposits or secondaries in the bones. They
may also help reduce the risk of these abnormal bones from breaking or
fracturing, by slowing down the damage caused to the bone by the cancer.

Research
is ongoing to look at which of these drugs is the best for treating
prostate cancer with bone disease and when the best time to start
treatment with these drugs is.

ALTERNATIVE TO SURGERY FOR TREATMENT OF EARLY PROSTATE CANCER

There
are 2 new treatments which are being researched as an alternative to
surgery for some men with localised prostate cancer. Both options would
not require a general anaesthetic (you would not need to be put to
sleep) making them lower risk. Both treatments also have fewer side
effects than radical surgery (“prostatectomy”). However neither has been
in use long enough to know if it will prevent prostate cancer from
coming back as effectively as standard treatments (surgery and
radiotherapy).

Cryotherapy
is the killing of cancer cells by freezing them. Needles are inserted
into the prostate gland under local anaesthetic and liquid nitrogen is
passed along them to freeze the prostate and the cancer cells within it.
Currently it is being used for men whose prostate cancer has come back
despite a first more conventional treatment and so is only being
trialled for use as a first treatment option.

HIFU
stands for high frequency ultrasound. Here ultrasound waves are
directed to where there are cancer cells and are these are used to heat
them up, thus killing them. In prostate cancer the ultrasound probe
would be put into the back passage and from here ultrasound waves would
be fired towards the prostate gland. The results so far have been good
in that the treatment is safe and effective.

NEW TREATMENTS FOR PROSTATE CANCER IN VERY EARLY STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT

There
are a number of alternative treatments which are still at a highly
experimental stage of development. Gene therapy aims to replace the
faulty genes in cancer cells with good ones which would allow the cell
to self destruct if it felt it had become too mutated. (Cancer cells
have lost this self destruct ability and continue to grow and divide
despite having many abnormalities which would normally force the cell to
die.) Vaccine treatment looks at ways of making the bodies own immune
system recognise and kill cancerous sells. Endothelin blockers are a new
type of drug treatment which works by preventing the prostate cancer
cells to grow.

Many
people may have heard that Vitamin D is being used in the treatment of
prostate cancer however this therapy is in the very early experimental
stages and is no where near being used in clinics as a cancer treatment.
Vitamin D has been reported to block receptors on prostate cancer cells
thereby slowing the rate of their growth but there is NO clinical
evidence that this is in fact the case. Some researchers claim that the
active form of Vitamin D slows the growth of prostate cancer but as yet
this has only been tested on mice and other small animals.

Beta-sitosterol
is a herbal remedy that people have started to associate with prostate
cancer treatment. This natural plant fat has apparently been proven
effective for the treatment of an enlarged prostate but not necessarily
prostate cancer. According to research Beta-sitosterol MAY help to
prevent the emergence of prostate cancer but this has not been
clinically proven yet.

Adrian
Jones writes on several forms of cancer. Further information is
available on his website dealing with prostate cancer
[http://www.justabout-prostatecancer.com/] and New treatments for
Prostate Cancer
[http://www.justabout-prostatecancer.com/new_treatments/new_prostate_cancer_treatments_index.php].
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