New research finds an experimental prostate cancer drug that works differently than other treatments actually extends the lives of men with spreading cancer by an average of nearly five months.


The medication, a hormone pill called MDV3100, launches a three-pronged attack against testosterone and its related hormones (also called androgens), which fuel the growth of prostate cancer.

Men with in the late stages of the disease who were given MDV3100 lived an average of almost 18 months from the start of treatment, some five months longer than those given a placebo.

All the men in the study had cancers that continued to spread despite previous hormonal therapy and chemotherapy.

“About 32,000 men die of prostate cancer each year in the U.S., and virtually all the deaths are due to this type of cancer,” said Howard I. Scher, MD, chief of the genitourinary oncology service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He presented the findings at a news briefing in advance of the fourth annual Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, being held later this week in San Francisco.

In addition, results of the study are being submitted to the FDA in anticipation of gaining approval, Scher told  WebMD.

If approved, MDV3100 would join a growing number of drugs for late-stage disease. And while the FDA recently signed off on the prostate cancer pill Zytiga, which may also extend life by four months, Dr. Scher says there’s a difference between the medications.

“Zytiga requires that men also receive prednisone, which produces side effects like fluid retention that have to be managed,” he said. “MDV3100 does not.”

“This is an outstanding drug,” says Bruce Roth, MD, a prostate cancer specialist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and a spokesperson for the American Society of Clinical Oncology, who was not involved with the research.

What he finds most exciting is the idea of using the once-a-day treatment earlier in the course of disease to delay the time until men need chemotherapy — which is something that’s currently being tested in a large study.

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