‘A transformation in care’: New treatment improves survival for advanced prostate cancer patients

A new treatment option combining a targeted compound with a radioisotope can extend the life of men with prostate cancer resistant to therapy, according to new study results. 

The experimental "radioligand" therapy is called Lutetium-177-PSMA-617 and delivers radiation selectively to cancer cells, researchers reported Sunday during the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.

In an international trial, the treatment “significantly” extended survival, delayed progression and was well-tolerated among patients with advanced cancer that had spread to other organs.

“This work represents a transformation in care for individuals with metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer,” Michael Morris, MD, prostate cancer head of Genitourinary Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said Thursday.

More than 80% of advanced prostate cancers harbor the PSMA protein, and these individuals can be identified via PET scanning. Lutetium-177-PSMA-617 targets cells with PSMA proteins while also limiting damage to surrounding tissue.

This randomized, phase 3 trial enrolled some 800 participants across 84 institutions. Each was randomly directed to receive Lutetium-177-PSMA-617 and the standard of care, or standard care alone.

Those who received the targeted radioligand therapy experienced longer overall survival rates than patients who only received the standard of care (15.3 months vs. 11.3 months). Similarly, survival without tumor progression was better among those who received novel therapy (8.7 months) compared to others (3.4 months).

While patients had previously undergone treatment with modern androgen axis inhibitors and taxane chemotherapy, each was still experiencing disease progression, the authors noted, making this new treatment all the more important.

"It's pretty well tolerated," Tom Beer, MD, one of the study leaders and deputy director of the Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute, said in a university news piece. "I think it's going to be an asset in treating cancer without taking a big toll on patients."

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