An experimental drug seems to be improving outcomes in men with extremely advanced prostate cancer, and one of the city's top cancer centers is playing a key role in the research. NY1’s Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
Most men with late stage prostate cancer that winds up spreading to the bone or other parts of the body often stop responding to first line treatments.
However, an investigational oral drug, MDV3100, is providing hope in a bottle for some by greatly improving survival rates.
“It's a great new drug. It is specifically designed for patients with advanced prostate cancer that progressed despite other treatments,” says Dr. Daniel Danila, a medical oncologist and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “It has been used with patients post-chemotherapy. It's still a hormone, so it’s very well tolerated and it shrinks prostate tumors and drops the PSA.”
The drug binds to androgen receptors in cancer cells and blocks them from letting cancer grow.
With Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center playing a major role in clinical trials of about 1,200 men, treatment with MDV3100 reduced risk of death by 37 percent compared to a placebo.
Those results were so promising that clinical trials were stopped last fall so patients on the placebo could also receive therapy.
“It took about two weeks for my PSA to go from the high 20s to zero, and it’s been zero ever since,” says John O’Mara, an 81-year-old patient who first had a prostate cancer tumor removed in his mid 30s.
After decades of drugs and radiation that did not suppress O’Mara’s PSA, the protein associated with prostate cancer, he was actually one of the first patients to receive MDV3100.
“It is not perfect for everybody,” says O’Mara, “But I do look at the future, even though I'm quite an old man, with a great deal more confidence.”
Researchers are also investigating the impact this drug might have on patients with breast cancer.
In the meantime, they are hoping it will be more widely available for men within the next year.