An experimental drug can help men with advanced prostate cancer live longer. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows the drug enzalutamide can significantly extend life and improve its quality for men with advanced disease.
"There was a four, five-month increase in life in the men who got this drug versus the men who did not," said Dr. Erik Goluboff of Beth Israel Medical Center.
The drug blocks testosterone from stimulating prostate cancer cells. Researchers found it was so successful, they stopped the study and offered the treatment to the patients that were not taking it.
A second study finds that measuring the PSA levels in men between the ages of 55 and 69 could lead to fewer deaths from prostate cancer. But treating the cancer too early and too aggressively would have a big impact on the quality of a patient's life.
"This gain in years lived is discounted by the fact that many of these men had complications from their treatment," Goluboff said.
Complications can include erectile dysfunction and incontinence. A federal task force has recommended against giving the PSA test, saying that routine screening often leads to tests and treatment that can be unnecessary and harmful.
Eduardo Cruz, 64, is holding off treating his early prostate cancer for that reason.
"The doctor is just waiting to see if the cancer grows or becomes more aggressive then he will treat it," Cruz said.
He trusts his doctor to help him weigh the risks and benefits and make the best decision.
The PSA test measures a protein to determine the likelihood of prostate cancer.
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