Prostate cancer study shows drug slows disease's spread
(CBS) Prostate cancer that spreads to the bones can cause pain and fractures and can hasten death, but doctors are pumped up about a new study showing that a drug called denosumab can delay the spread of the disease.
The study represents "a significant accomplishment that should lead to better treatment strategies," study author Dr. Matthew Smith, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a written statement. Smith serves as a consultant for Amgen, the company that markets denosumab under the names Xgeva and Prolia.
For the study, more than 1,400 men prostate cancer patients around the world were given either injections of denosumab or a placebo every four weeks for two years. Bone scans and X-rays showed that denosumab treatment increased by an average of more than four months the time it took for cancer spread to the bones.
The study was published online in The Lancet.
The men who got the denosumab didn't live longer than those who got the placebo. But researchers said that the fact the drug was discontinued once there was evidence the cancer had spread to the bones makes it hard to tell whether the drug might extend survival in men who continue to get the drug, according to the statement.
Dr. Mitchell Gross, a cancer specialist in Los Angeles, called the finding "another step in the right direction," ABC News reported. "They were successful that the medicine delays development of the bone metastatic spread, but they didn't show it actually makes them live longer, so that's certainly a problem in some regards."
The researchers pointed out that denosumab was discontinued once there was evidence that the cancer had spread, adding that that makes it to tell whether the drug might extend survival in men who continue taking the drug.
The CDC says prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the U.S., after skin cancer. In 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available, prostate cancer struck 223,307 men in the U.S. and killed 29,093.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation has more on prostate cancer.
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