Once again, the prostate cancer community has been rocked by startling and conflicting news. According to a research study from The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine androgen deprivation therapy (hormone blockade- ADT) may encourage prostate cancer cells to produce Nestin, a protein that makes prostate cancer cells more likely to spread through out the body!

Androgen therapy (ADT) is the main stay therapy for men with advanced prostate cancer as well as for men who need to shrink the size of their prostate prior to primary radiation therapy. Now we are being told that hormone therapy might be encouraging the spread of our disease.

David Berman, an assistant professor of Pathology, Urology and Oncology at Johns Hopkins, found that androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) allows for an increase in the gene that causes the expression of Nestin. When they removed the androgens from the chemical soup the human prostate cancer cells were living in, their production of Nestin increased and the prostate cancer cells were able to more easily move around and through other cells.

They further found by reducing the presence of Nestin, prostate cancer cells were not able to move around and through other cells as efficiently. Prostate cancer cells with hampered Nestin expression were less likely then normal cells to migrate to other parts of the body when transplanted unto mice.

Tumor cells from men who never received ADT did not show any sign of Nestin, including those men who had developed metastasizes.

Berman stated that Nestin is produced by prostate cells in response to ADT when the therapy has been used for periods longer than six months. The Nestin may encourage the cells to metastasize.

Berman and his team did go on to say that, their research is far too preliminary for men to stop using ADT. However, this research might change how some physicians elect to treat.

This research was published in the October 1, 2007 issue of Cancer Research.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW