Promising New Treatments for Prostate Cancer

Until recently, the treatment for prostate cancer has been either surgical (particularly if the cancer is localized in the prostate), or radioactive therapy (external beam radiation or radioactive pellets, know as brachytherapy). Future therapies for prostate cancer will limit the use of these invasive procedures. Immune therapy and genetic therapy will probably be treatments of choice for localized and metastatic prostate cancer within the next decade. Imagine a serious problem like prostate cancer being treated without surgery or radiation therapy. Imagine being treated by taking a pill, inhaling a drug or administering an agent directly to the body. Remember that there is always the supplements like this

Using the body to fight

Immunological therapy involves stimulating either tumor-specific mechanisms by directly attacking the prostate cancer tumor cells or stimulating the body's general ability to fight off cancer (non-specific stimulation). More likely than not, the immunological therapy that will dominate will be the production of tumor-specific modalities.

One way immune therapy will work will be the development of a prostate cancer vaccine. Partially killed cancer cells will be administered to the body cells that would then develop specific anti- cancer anti-bodies. That is to say, the body would produce humoral immune mechanisms that would attach specifically to the prostate cancer cells and destroy their function. This technique is much like the vaccines for polio and smallpox in which weakened forms of those diseases are injected and produce immunity.

Another more specific form of immune therapy could involve the removal of cancer cells from an individual using biopsy techniques. These living, patient-specific prostate cancer cells are incubated with the patient's own blood serum. In this way, the incubation process would stimulate the patient's own white blood cells to become sensitized to his prostate cancer cells and would produce cancer specific anti-bodies which will then destroy the patient's prostate cancer. When such therapy help for relaxation and proper sleep can give such an additive

DNA delivering help

If you think that immune therapy is specific for attacking a patient's cancer cells, gene therapy will probably attack metabolic pathways within the cell itself (intracellular micro therapy). In order to make gene therapy work, genetic material DNA, and in most cases RNA, must be transported directly into the prostate cancer cells. In order to do this, the doctor either administers the DNA/RNA protein directly in the prostate or uses a vector (such as a virus) which can incorporate this protein into its own make up and transport it directly to the prostate. The virus vector could be administered as a pill taken orally, an injection, or more likely as a nasal spray in which a benign, harmless virus will act as the carrier of the cancer-killing protein material.

How will this cancer-killing DNA/RNA protein get into the cancer cells and how will it assist in the destruction of the cancer cells? The carrier virus will penetrate all the cells of the body; however, since it is a benign virus it will do no harm. The DNA/RNA protein it carries will become incorporated only into the prostate cancer cell and affect the metabolism of that prostate cancer cell. Therefore, the DNA/RNA carried on the vector will be a protein that can only be read, interpreted and picked up by prostate cancer cells.

An example: prostate cancer cells produce only prostate-specific antigens, if the protein is prostate cancer specific then the virus infected with the protein can only attach itself to prostate cancer cells; other cells don't have the pathway, or antigens specific to prostate cancer, so they will not be disturbed. If incorporated into the specific pathway that is part of the function of a prostate cancer cell, the DNA/RNA protein could affect or destroy an extremely important function of the cell, thereby killing it. The recognized prostate cancer-specific protein could also be attached to another chemical, DNA/RNA molecule or radioactive material as its mode of transportation. Again, the protein can injure only the prostate cancer cell.

Therapy is now more invasive, but it is still the most effective treatment for localized prostate cancer. However, if the disease spreads to other areas of the body, invasive therapies like removal of the prostate are ineffective. Immune therapy and gene therapy can be very specific to cancer cells whether localized or spread distantly.

The therapies can be used effectively in patients who have massive tumors when combined with traditional reductive and chemotherapy techniques. Before starting immune therapy or gene therapy, a patient with massive prostate cancer which has spread to the bones or lungs can be treated by removing prostate and lymph node tissue first, then using hormonal therapy to kill as many testosterone sensitive cells as possible (up to 90 percent) then applying the tumor-specific therapy. This technique would treat the whole body whereas some individual techniques like hormone therapy can miss killing all the cancer cells which can then grow and spread. Immune therapy and gene therapy can be even more effective in those patients who have less tumor mass.

Prevention is paramount

Detecting prostate cancer as early as possible is ultimately the best way to treat it. Currently, the digital-rectal exam and the PSA tests are the most sensitive markers of detection. However, from the first time a typical prostate cancer cell forms to the time it is detected by the PSA test can be from 6-10 years. A PSA test can miss 20 percent of all prostate cancer because the particular cells may not produce a rise in PSA.

The cancer may keep growing for another 6-10 years before a digital-rectal exam will detect the enlargement or tumor. It will not be until super-sensitive markers (currently in development) are used that doctors will be able to detect even the most minimal prostate cancer. A patient whose cancer is detected with these super-sensitive markers may only need immune therapy or gene therapy since tumor bulk would be minimal. The doctor can monitor the effectiveness of treatment again by using the super-sensitive markers to detect any recurrence.

The future for prostate cancer patients continues to brighten. Super-sensitive markers that detect prostate cancer earlier combined with immune therapy and gene therapy may lead to the treatment of prostate cancer more quickly, less invasively, and less destructively. These treatments are on the horizon and will continue to be developed until prostate cancer, like polio and smallpox, is a distant memory.