New Strategies For Prostate Cancer Needed because of Aging Population and Increasing Life Expectancy
In the United States, the life expectancy for men has been increase to four years since the 1990′s. Moreover, many of the men of the baby boomer generations are getting older.
These imply that more men are likely to be diagnosed with cancer of the prostate. This cancer affects mainly the aging population, and since many are too weak to be provided with the traditional standard treatments, there is need for new strategies to provide better cure for these men. The following article provides more details:
The population of the United States is getting older, due not only to aging boomers but also to a four-year increase in life expectancy from 1990 to 2010. An aging population means increased diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Statistically, the older the patient at time of diagnosis, the more aggressive the disease — and also the less well the patient is likely to tolerate traditional chemotherapies. In sum, we have more, aggressive prostate cancer that can’t be targeted by traditional treatments.
Members of the University of Colorado Cancer Center recently published a review in the journal Drugs and Aging describing the modern state of prostate cancer care — examining not only new drugs but entirely new classes of drugs that may be effective and well-tolerated in these aging patients.
“For patients with advanced prostate cancer, there are more options than ever before. But with more options comes a more complex decision tree in choosing appropriate therapies,” says Elizabeth Kessler, MD, oncology fellow at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and the review’s lead author.
First among these options are targeted therapies. Modern targeted therapies are able to selectively kill cancer cells as opposed to accepting high collateral damage in healthy tissue and so frequently have fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapies. (And are thus better tolerated by elderly patients.)
“These are drugs like abiraterone and enzalutamide that have been approved for use in late stage prostate cancer and are now being evaluated for earlier use,” Kessler says. Prostate cancer generally depends on androgen hormones like testosterone to survive and grow — even after traditional hormone blockade, the body continues to produce minute amounts of testosterone and even this little bit is enough to drive prostate cancer.
By completely removing the body’s ability to produce testosterone or the cancer’s ability to use it, these drugs break the messaging chain that tells prostate cancer to grow. CU Cancer Center researchers have played an important role in the clinical development of both of these drugs.
Researchers are also looking for additional, molecular drivers of prostate cancer, perhaps for example insulin growth factor.
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Indeed, new strategies are needed in the prostate cancer health segment. These should be applied with the best of urgency so that the lives of men presently suffering from aggressive cancer can be saved. Research on diagnostic methods and the development of effective drugs should be sponsored and supported more than ever.
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