Drug helps men with advanced prostate cancer


by Meg Farris / Eyewitness News Medical Reporter


Posted on July 6, 2010 at 1:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 6 at 11:09 PM

There is new hope for men who have advanced stage prostate cancer and are out of options. A new treatment will be available this month. And part of the research for this new drug was done in New Orleans.

As Medical Watch first reported in March, there is new hope for men with late stage prostate cancer. Dr. Oliver Sartor, the  director of prostate cancer research at Tulane, was  one of the two principal investigators on a large international study that uncovered  a new drug that appears to prolong the lives of men suffering from advanced stage prostate cancer. Now that drug is approved by the FDA.

"It actually was the third fastest oncology drug approval ever. It was 78 days from submission to approval, which is phenomenal," he said.

This is only the fourth time in medical history that  a drug has been shown to help prostate patients live longer, and the very first time that a drug was tested and shown to prolong the lives of men who have advanced prostate cancer and who have failed all other treatment options.

"This is for patients with advanced prostate cancer,  cancer that is spread  into the bones or lymph nodes typically, and cancer that has already failed hormonal therapy, failed surgery, failed radiation, failed initial chemotherapy," Dr. Sartor explained.
The new IV treatment is called Cabazitaxel and when it hits the market later this month will go under the name Jevtana. It showed a 30 percent improvement in overall survival for patients whose prostate cancer had spread.  

"We would not anticipate remission, but we would hope for response and that's realistic hope. In terms of being able to cure people, no, not with this advanced stage. But, being able to help them to live longer, yes," said Dr. Sartor. 

During the testing phase, men had as many as six to 10 infusions with the new drug, three weeks apart.

"I think the important thing is that for advanced prostate cancer patients, there are very limited options and this will be a new option for patients with disease that is not otherwise treatable," said Dr. Sartor.

There are no studies on this drug with other types of cancer, but Dr. Sartor says more researchers will also see if it can play a role in the treatment of breast, lung, and head and neck cancers.