Those of us in the prostate cancer world know that our disease presents us with many contradictions. Our dietary and suggested supplement recommendations seem to be modified as often as the wind changes direction. Even more serious is our lack of good tumor markers for disease progression. The result is we are forced to make treatment decisions with poor and incomplete information.

According to Health Day news there is a commonly used protein, C-reactive protein (CRP), which currently serves as a marker for heart disease, that may be able to predict survival and response to chemotherapy in men with advanced prostate cancer.

CRP is a product of the liver and appears in elevated levels in the presence of inflammation. According to Dr. Tomasz Beer, director of the prostate cancer research program at the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute “There’s a growing body of information that suggests that inflammation may be an important driver of cancer progression,”

Beer conducted a clinical study that involved 160 men with advanced prostate cancer, who were either taking docetaxel ( the one and only chemotherapy drug approved to treat advanced prostate cancer) plus Asentar (the phase 3 trial of Asentar was discontinued due to an imbalance of deaths between the two treatment arms), or docetaxel alone. Beer concluded, “In our analysis, CRP was much more predictive of survival than PSA was so, from that perspective, it’s a potentially better test.”

Additional follow up trials are required to confirm Beers’ statements about CRP. If these studies confirm Beer’s analysis, then we would have an already existing test that could be used to anticipate the future of an individual’s prostate cancer progression and its expected response to chemotherapy. This would provide us a great advantage in planning our care and treatment as our disease progresses.

Additionally, if you bear in mind my post from Monday, January 7, 2008 about COX-2 Inhibitors you will see a theme about the role of inflammation and cancer. Inflammation clearly presents a potentially fertile ground for additional research and treatment for many cancers, including advanced prostate cancer.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW