Prostate cancer treatment risk

March 2, 2008

What we all want, with any form of medical treatment and certainly with cancer, is the certainty that it will cure our condition. What we don’t look for is that it might cause us even further problems. This seems to be indicated in the treatment of prostate cancer, according to a study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and published in the journal ‘Cancer Research’.

Androgen deprivation therapy, which commonly used in the treatment of prostate cancer, may actually make cancer more likely to spread to other parts of the body. This sounds like scare mongering, but the logic behind it is certainly real. Because prostate tumour growth is generally stimulated by male sex hormones, androgen deprivation therapy, in which those hormones are suppressed, is often given to patients in order to slow down the tumour growth.

Earlier research has demonstrated that a protein called nestin tends to be produced by prostate cancer cells that have metastasized to other parts of the body. Nestin does not appear to be produced by cancer cells, however, in cases where the cancer has not spread. In this latest study, researchers experimented on androgen-dependent prostate cancer cells in the laboratory. When they cut off the cells’ access to androgens, the cells increased their production of nestin.

While this does suggest that nestin levels increased when prostate cancer cells are deprived of androgens and may encourage the cells to metastasise, the lead researcher, David Berman, warned that there is not yet enough evidence to advise the abandonment of androgen deprivation therapy as a treatment. The study, which was funded by the Evensen Family Foundation, the German Cancer Foundation, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health will continue to be ongoing and I will report on any progress.


Article by  


What do you think of this health article by ? Join the discussion...