New hope in battle against prostate cancer


Posted on May 28, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 28 at 5:41 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

It's the most  frequently diagnosed cancer in men and too often, men find out they have prostate cancer after it has spread.

But now a new treatment for advanced-stage prostate cancer has been approved and it was tested in New Orleans.

When prostate cancer spreads to the bones, the outlook is not good for men. Sadly the patient, a doctor,  whose scan we were shown, did not make it.

Men with advanced prostate cancer getting the current treatments only live, on average, about 18 months.  But now there is new hope.

"This is a very novel, we call it alpha emitter, and  there's never been one in medicine before,” explained Dr. Oliver Sartor, Director of the Tulane Cancer Center and a specialist in advanced prostate cancer. “So, it's a radiopharmaceutical that goes to bone but it knows where the cancers there, is in the bone. And it specifically radiates the areas where the cancer is in bone."

Nearly four years ago, Medical Watch took you exclusively to the Tulane Cancer Center where Sartor was the principal investigator in North America for a worldwide study testing a radioactive IV drug.

It was the first center to open, enrolling more advanced prostate cancer patients than any other North American site. Patients came from all over the United States to join the study. Now the testing is done and the drug is FDA approved.

"The people who got six doses lived longer, had a reduction in pain and actually had fewer adverse events than the placebo group did,” Sartor said. “So, pretty remarkable, not only efficacious but also very well-tolerated.”

Tulane could have the first patient to use the new treatment. A dose of Xofigo already has been ordered from Norway, which has the only reactor in the world to make it.

But this breakthrough comes with an important message - get yearly screenings because there are no signs or symptoms in early stage prostate cancer.

"If you find it early, then you may or may not need to be treated,” Sartor said. “And one of the nice messages about prostate cancer is when you find it early, you have choices and if you find it late, you don't have choices.”

Sartor supports PSA screenings, which are blood tests,  beginning at age 45 for people with a family history and African Americans who are at high risk. He also said men should have an annual physical exam (digital rectal exam) of the prostate starting at age 50.

All of this should be in conjunction with your doctor's opinion of your specific case and medical history.

For more on this new drug call Tulane 504-988-7869. The drug website is