Are you planning on becoming pregnant? If not, researchers from the Medical Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health have reported a study successfully using thalidomide to slow down the progression of advanced prostate cancer. Thalidomide is a drug that was first synthesized in 1954 to be used as a sedative. It was eventually linked to more than 10,000 severe malformations in infants and taken off the market. Besides this horrific effect, thalidomide also demonstrated that it had an antiangiogenic activity.
In The Journal of Urology, March 2009,this study reported using thalidomide as a treatment option for men who have increasing Prostate-Specific-Antigen (PSA) after surgery but without signs of metastases. The studies investigated the addition of thalidomide to intermittent ADT in a double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study.
In this study, patients were first given ADT for 6 months, followed by thalidomide or placebo until their PSA increased (Oral Phase A) and the authors found that the median time to PSA increase was 15 months for the thalidomide patients versus 9.6 months for placebo. The next phase, Oral Phase B (OPB), was another 6 months of ADT followed by thalidomide and placebo, now switched between patient groups. During OPB, the median time to PSA increase was 17.1 months for thalidomide and 6.6 months for placebo.
Writing in the article, William D. Figg said, “Thalidomide is associated with an increase in PSA progression-free survival in men with biochemically recurrent prostate cancer after intermittent ADT. These effects were independent of any effects on testosterone. This is the first study to our knowledge to demonstrate the effects of thalidomide using intermittent hormonal therapy.”
This study needs to be replicated, but it holds out potential which could be made easily available.
Joel T Nowak MA, MSW