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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 09/23/05
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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New Study Tests Early 'Blockade' to Reduce Prostate Cancer Recurrence

UC medical oncologist Leslie Oleksowicz, MD, wants to determine whether early, aggressive treatment of prostate cancer can delay or prevent tumor recurrence, ultimately increasing patient survival rates.

Dr. Oleksowicz, director of the Medical Genitourinary Oncology Program at UC, hypothesizes that a medical “blockade”—combining chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, a new tumor-targeting agent and bone-strengthening treatments—may reduce the recurrence of prostate tumors and help prevent painful bone injuries associated with the disease.

"When a woman has a breast cancer tumor removed, we immediately administer chemotherapy and hormones to kill residual, microscopic tumor cells, thereby eliminating further growth,” Dr. Oleksowicz explained. “If the same method is applied to prostate cancer and is effective, it would shift the way we approach overall treatment of this disease.”

According to Dr. Oleksowicz, this will be the first study of chemotherapy plus targeted anti-tumor therapy as an early approach to prostate cancer treatment. She will test the new drug combination on men, previously treated with surgery or radiation, who are currently experiencing a rising prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level.

PSA is a substance released into the bloodstream from the male prostate gland. While low levels of the substance may be found in healthy men, in prostate cancer patients elevated levels indicate the return of their cancer.

“My study asks whether administering chemotherapy together with targeted therapy at the first sign of a PSA elevation can prevent a prostate tumor from recurring or—at minimum—significantly reduce tumor growth and increase the patient’s lifespan,” said Dr. Oleksowicz.

“Traditionally, prostate cancer is treated with surgery or radiation—the problem is that many men relapse and their PSA levels slowly increase again,” said Dr. Oleksowicz.

Following four six-week cycles of chemotherapy in combination with a new tumor-targeting agent, the monoclonal antibody imatinib mesylate (Gleevec), to eradicate microscopic tumor cells, patients who participate in the study will also be treated for two years with a combined androgen blockade (hormone therapy) and a bone-strengthening agent.

By treating the prostate tumor with chemotherapy and imatinib mesylate while it is still microscopic, Dr. Oleksowicz hopes to prevent future growth.

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer will result in more than 30,000 deaths in the United States in 2005, making it the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality among men. When detected in an early stage, prostate cancer is one of the most curable types of the disease. 

For more information on the study, sponsored call Cheryl Sizemore, RN, at (513) 584-7614.

The study is funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Oleksowicz has no financial interest in the company.

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