New treatment for advanced prostate cancer shows improved overall survival

New treatment for advanced prostate cancer shows improved overall survival
Researchers from Harvard have recently reported results from a phase 3 clinical trial showing that among men with prostate cancer who received the experimental treatment- lutetium-177-PSMA-617 or LuPSMA, there was nearly a 40% reduction in deaths compared to those who did not.
The treatment has two components: a compound that targets a cancer cell protein called prostate-specific membrane antigen, or PSMA, and a radioactive particle that destroys the cells. Healthy prostate cells do not contain PSMA or do at very low levels. Some men with prostate cancer have more of this protein than others. Doctors can detect the protein using a specialised imaging scan.
To qualify for enrollment in the study, called the VISION trial, men had to be PSMA-positive. In all, 831 men were split into two groups: one group got the experimental treatment plus standard of care, while men in the control group got standard of care only. All the men had metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, meaning that the disease was spreading in the body and no longer responding to drugs that suppress testosterone (which fuels growing tumours).
Results after 21 months showed that cancer progression was delayed for longer among the LuPSMA-treated men: 8.7 months on average versus 3.4 months among the controls. The treatment was also associated with better overall survival: 15.3 months versus 11.3 months. LuPSMA was generally well-tolerated, but it also had side effects including fatigue, nausea, kidney problems, and bone marrow suppression. The team said more research is needed to determine how and when to use the drug since if the patient has an 8-10-year expected lifespan, then the side effects could become problematic.

Marc Garnick, MD, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center said, “The addition of both diagnostic and treatment advances represents true milestones in improving the outcomes of men with resistant prostate cancer. The current studies are particularly important, as the criteria for using the new therapeutic radioactive substance is provided only to men who show that their cancers express the target of the new treatment.”