There is now new hope for chemo holidays for men with advanced prostate cancer!!!!
In a first-of-its-kind study, it has been found that men with advanced prostate cancer can take a much-needed safe break, or holiday, from chemotherapy in a similar manner as with ADT.
Tomasz Beer, M.D., just published in the journal Cancer a double-blind, randomized study, which showed that men with metastatic, androgen-independent prostate cancer could take a break from docetaxel (chemotherapy).
Docetaxel is toxic and works by killing cancer cells and slowing cell growth. However, the drug also causes significant side effects, such as hair loss, nausea, loss of appetite and increased risk for infections.
Chemo holidays can be a much-needed vacation from these side effects. Prior to this study, the concern was that stopping chemotherapy would lead to treatment resistance.
“We wanted to see if we could improve the quality of life for these patients by giving them time away from chemotherapy and possibly extend the time their cancer is controlled. Essentially, what we proved is that in selected subjects, chemotherapy holidays (intermittent chemotherapy) are feasible and provided meaningful breaks from treatment,” said Beer.
This multi-institutional trial examined outcomes from intermittent chemotherapy. A total of 250 men participated with 18 percent the intermittent arm of the study. These men previously had responded well to chemotherapy.
The median duration of the first chemo holiday was 18 weeks. On resumption of chemotherapy, the majority of subjects again responded to treatment. Specifically, 45.5 percent of participants responded with a greater than 50 percent reduction in prostate specific antigen (PSA) from their post-holiday baseline; of those, 45.5 percent had stable PSAs for at least 12 weeks; and 9.1 percent experienced disease progression.
The next step, said Beer, is to study the addition of immunotherapy (i.e. Provenge type of treatment), treating the cancer by working with the immune system, during the chemotherapy holidays. Beer indicated that “Because we know holidays are a good thing, we want to find ways to make them even longer,”
JOEL T NOWAK MA, MSW