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Will Immunotherapy Help Men with Prostate Cancer?

Oncologists are studying how could immunotherapy help men with prostate cancer. In one trial, 10 to 15 percent of the men had an excellent response.
Prostate cancer of a human, highly detailed segment of panorama. Photomicrograph as seen under the microscope, 10x zoom.

Like breast cancer, prostate cancer is often driven by hormones. Doctors frequently use hormone-suppressing drugs such as enzalutamide (Xtandi) or leuprolide (Lupron) to treat this condition. Could immunotherapy help men with prostate cancer?

Immunotherapy and Prostate Cancer:

Until recently, immunotherapy has not been considered particularly effective against prostate cancer. But now British researchers report impressive early results for some men who received the checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda) to treat advanced prostate cancer. About ten to 15 percent of the volunteers did extremely well on this treatment, while the rest of them didn’t benefit very much at all.

Tumors shrank in only about 5 percent of the participants. Those who responded best have tumors with mutations in their DNA repair mechanisms. The researchers consider this an important advance even if it only benefits a minority of patients. They presented their findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Meeting, June, 2018. They are already working to figure out how to identify which men will benefit from immunotherapy.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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