Today’s post is not directly an advanced prostate cancer post, but more about a new potential and very interesting treatment on the horizon for men with prostate cancer that might otherwise be considered for active surveillance. According to the researchers who have been working on the treatment protocol, it is “truly transformative”.
This is not a treatment that is yet ready for prime time, but it is a possible treatment that, if proven, could be transformative for many men yet to be diagnosed.
This new approach to treating early, non-aggressive prostate cancer has been tested across Europe. It involves the use of lasers that awaken a drug made from deep sea bacteria to eliminate tumors. Based on the current studies, for many men the treatment is effective without causing severe side effects.
The trials, so far, have included 413 men. Their results were published in The Lancet Oncology. According to the publication, the trial showed nearly half of the men participating had no remaining traces of cancer in their prostate gland and they did not suffer the common long term side effects of our current treatments, impotence and incontinence.
According to the investigators, this approach might be a good alternative to active surveillance.
To further explain, this new investigational uses a drug, made from bacteria that live in the almost total darkness of the seafloor and which become toxic only when exposed to light. After injecting the drug into the blood stream ten fiber optic lasers are inserted through the perineum – the gap between the anus and the testes – and into the cancerous prostate gland.
After the lasers are inserted and turned on the drug that is exposed to the light from the lasers becomes toxic and kills the cancer while leaving behind the healthy prostate.
The trial results from 47 hospitals across Europe showed 49% of the men who underwent the treatment went into a complete remission. Six percent (6%) of the treated men did eventually need to move on to more aggressive treatment compared with 30% of men in the active surveillance control group.
Men in the investigational group reported that the impact on their sexual activity and urination lasted no more than three months. After two years no men reported that the treatment had a significant side effects after two years.
Don’t rush off to your doctor just yet as this potential treatment has not yet been approved anywhere in the world. Also, remember that in the world of prostate cancer two years is still a very short period of time, but it is well worth our actively watching this investigational treatment over time.
Can this treatment have an eventual role in men with advanced prostate cancer? I believe that it might, even if it does not prove out over the long haul. This type of treatment might lend itself to a less invasive treatment modality for distant tumors. Attacking distant tumors can bring pain relief and maybe even longer survival.