In a new study, researchers found for the first time, prostate cancer can be treated based on the genetic makeup of cancer.
The new therapy could delay disease progression, delay time to pain progression, and potentially extend lives in patients with advanced, metastatic prostate cancer.
The research was conducted by a team from Northwestern Medicine.
In 2019, there are an estimated 174,650 new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S., and 31,620 deaths from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. In 2016, there were an estimated 3,100,000 men living with prostate cancer in the U.S.
The PROfound trial treated men with metastatic prostate cancer that has progressed after several types of prior therapies, including hormone therapy.
This marks a significant advance for prostate cancer treatment, which has lagged behind other common cancers with regard to precision therapy, now the standard of care in breast, ovarian and lung cancers.
The trial preselected patients who have genetic alterations in the genes that enable cells to repair themselves from damage.
Those most commonly known are the BRACA 1, BRACA 2 and ATM genes, but there are several others. Patients were randomly assigned to receive olaparib, which has been used in other cancers (ovarian, breast and pancreatic) with similar alterations—or standard hormone therapy with either abiraterone and prednisone or enzalutamide.
The team says treatments for metastatic, hormone-resistant prostate cancer have continued to use ‘one-size-fits-all’ approaches, overlooking the genetic make-up of the tumor.
The new results show the potential of a genetically targeted treatment for patients with advanced disease.
Scientists are still following patients who will ultimately die from their cancer, but the drug appears to prolong survival.
The percentage of patients alive at six, 12 and 18 months is higher with the therapy.
One-year survival was 73% for the therapy versus 56.94% for the control group; at 18 months, survival was 56.3 % for the therapy versus 42.13% for the control group.
One author of the study is Northwestern principal co-investigator Dr. Maha Hussain.
The study was presented at the 2019 European Society of Medical Oncology in Barcelona.
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