Abiraterone, 4th New Drug for Prostate Cancer is Approved in 12 Months
In the past few months I have often said there is no better time to be a prostate cancer patient than now. In my position here at the Prostate Cancer Foundation, I have uttered this statement with enthusiasm and a bit of pride. As a patient, I have said it with a healthy portion of relief and a prayer of thanksgiving for progress. Not that I want to ever need any of these new drugs, but, as I grapple with my disease and the ever present possibility of recurrence, I am reassured that these new treatments will be ready and waiting for me and my medical team if and when I need them.
To recap, the four new drugs are: Provenge (the first ever immunotherapy for the disease); Cabazitaxel, an advanced chemotherapy agent also known as Jevtana; Denusomab, marketed as Xgeva for bone health during androgen dperivatrion tehrapy; and now, Abiraterone (Zytiga). Approved just yesterday by the FDA, Abiraterone has been in development since the 1990s and will be utilized for the treatment of castration-resistant, metastatic prostate cancer following docetaxel chemotherapy. It’s a clinical break-through for patients who previously had few good clinical therapies available to them.
During Phase III clinical studies, patient response was so encouraging that those patients who were taking the placebo were given the option of switching to the drug. Good news indeed for so many.
You can read more about Abiraterone here.
Here’s to progress. Here’s to better outcomes.
We meet them every week, and they are amazing.
Granted, every patient confronted with a serious disease is a hero in their own right. Given a life-altering, possibly life-threatening, scenario, they step up to the plate, find ways to cope with their fears and sign up for various physically-demanding treatments all at a time when they could actually be forgiven for wanting to, as the saying goes, curl up and die. It’s a testament to their families, friends and their own perceived self-worth. It’s also an odd but very real way of celebrating life itself.
But there are other heroes that never cease to amaze me. In my circles, I call them the undiagnosed cancer heroes. Individuals who have not been given their own diagnoses, but have thrown themselves squarely into the front lines of this battle. They are advocates, researchers, family members and friends who continue to perform heroic deeds on our behalf. Last week I met with several researchers and cancer advocates in Boston and London and was, as always, impressed by their unwavering passion for the cause. One British woman in particular sticks in my mind.
Meet Wendy Gough.
Wendy lost her son, Matthew, to testicular cancer when he was just 19 years old. Before he died, he told her: “I learnt so much in school that I would never use in my life, but the one vital thing that might have saved my life, they didn’t teach me.” It was an unnecessary loss, particularly since, as LIVESTRONG has taught us, testicular cancer is highly treatable, perhaps even curable. But what Matthew was missing, was the basic information about the problem, how to spot it and how to self examine. He watched, ashamed and afraid, as a tumor took shape. By the time Matthew decided to speak up and see a doctor, it was too late to contain his cancer.
As a parent, I can image the pain and loss that Wendy encountered when Matthew succumbed to the cancer that had invaded his body. One would be very sympathetic if she had merely mourned and tried to get on with her life without a vital limb. Yes, a child implants itself on a parent like a third and very essential arm. Instead, in the 12 years since Matthew’s death, Wendy has gone on the offensive.
Wendy initiated Cancer Awareness Talks,which she delivers personally, to schools across Britian. She has pounded the halls of Parliament to enourage the adoption of a cancer curriculum in all schools and made numerous media appearances to tell of Matthew’s story and the need for increased awareness and self examination. She has also spent her entire inheritance–sans regrets–in doing so. Fortunately, she now has the support of several Charitable Trusts on her side of the pond.
Wendy’s efforts have been directly credited with saving hundreds of lives in the U.K. Professor Tim Oliver from Bart’s Hospital in London reports: “The size of (testicular) tumors over the past decade have now halved on presentation because cancer awareness is at last getting attention–at last we feel that somebody is listening to what we have been attempting to tell them for 12 years.”
Last year, through the Everyman Cancer Awareness Support Group, Wendy covered 23 counties and 250 schools, reaching more than 30,000 school children. She also gave talks to the British armed forces and police departments. I believe Wendy will soon see her goal ensuring that cancer curriculum become mandatory in the British school system. It will promote awareness for all cancers.
Yes. We are surrounded by heroes, embraced by angels on earth. Wendy is one of them.
Note:You can read Darren Couchman’s testicular cancer blog, One Lump or Two? at http://www.onelumportwo.org.uk/index.htm
A new study finds finger length may indicate a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen reports.
By David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D.
Michael Pollan’s recent little gem of a book “Food Rules” inspired me to compile my own “rules” about what I’d like every person to know about how they can help avoid cancer – or slow it down if they have it.
1. Go retro: Your main course should be 80 percent vegetables, 20 percent animal protein, like it was in the old days. Opt for the opposite of the quarter pounder topped with a token leaf of iceberg lettuce and an anemic tomato slice. Meat should be used sparingly for taste, as when it used to be scarce, and should not be the focus of the meal.
2. Mix and match your vegetables: Vary the vegetables you eat from one meal to the next, or mix them together — broccoli is an effective anticancer food, and is even more effective when combined with tomato sauce, onions or garlic. Get in the habit of adding onions, garlic or leeks to all your dishes as you cook.
3. Go organic: Choose organic foods whenever possible, but remember it’s always better to eat broccoli that’s been exposed to pesticide than to not eat broccoli at all (the same applies to any other anticancer vegetable).
4. Spice it up: Add turmeric (with black pepper) when cooking (delicious in salad dressings!). This yellow spice is the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory agent. Remember to add Mediterranean herbs to your food: thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, marjoram, mint, etc. They don’t just add flavor, they can also help reduce the growth of cancer cells.
5. Skip the potato: Potatoes raise blood sugar, which can feed inflammation and cancer growth. They also contain high levels of pesticide residue (to the point that most potato farmers I know don’t eat their own grown potatoes).
6. Go fish: Eat fish two or three times a week – sardines, mackerel, and anchovies have less mercury and PCBs than bigger fish like tuna. Avoid swordfish and shark, which the FDA says pregnant women should not eat because they contain a high concentration of contaminants.
7. Remember not all eggs are created equal: Choose only omega-3 eggs, or don’t eat the yolks. Hens are now fed on mostly corn and soybeans, and their eggs contain 20 times more pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids than cell-growth regulating omega-3s.
8. Change your oil: Use only olive and canola oil in cooking and salad dressings. Go through your kitchen cabinets and throw out your soybean, corn and sunflower oils. (And no, you can’t give them to your neighbors or your relatives… They’re much too rich in omega-6 fatty acids!)
9. Say “Brown is beautiful”: Eat your grains whole and mixed (wheat with oats, barley, spelt, flax, etc.) and favor organic whole grains when possible since pesticides tend to accumulate on whole grains. Avoid refined, white flour (used in bagels, muffins, sandwich bread, buns, etc.) whenever possible, and eat white pasta only al dente.
10. Keep sweets down to fruits: Cut down on sugar by avoiding sweetened sodas and fruit juices, and skipping dessert or replacing it with fruit (especially stone fruits and berries) after most meals. Read the labels carefully, and steer clear of products that list any type of sugar (including brown sugar, corn syrup, etc.) in the first three ingredients. If you have an incorrigible sweet tooth, try a few squares of dark chocolate containing more than 70% cocoa.
11. Go green: Instead of coffee or black tea, drink three cups of green tea per day. Use decaffeinated green tea if it gets you too wired. Regular consumption of green tea has been linked to a significant reduction in the risk for developing cancer.
12. Make room for exceptions. What matters is what you do on a daily basis, not the occasional treat.
NON FOOD RULES
1. Get physical: Make time to exercise, be it walking, dancing or running. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week. This can be as easy as just walking part of the way to the office, or the grocery store. A dog is often a better walking partner than an exercise buddy. Choose an activity you enjoy; if you’re having fun, you’re more likely to stick with it.
2. Let the sun shine in: Try to get at least 20 minutes of daily sun exposure (torso, arms and legs) without sunscreen, preferably at noon in the summer (but take care to avoid sunburns!). This will boost your body’s natural production of Vitamin D. As an alternative: discuss the option of taking a Vitamin D3 supplement with your doctor.
3. Banish bad chemicals: Avoid exposure to common household contaminants. You should air our your dry-cleaning for two hours before storing or wearing it; use organic cleaning products (or wear gloves); don’t heat liquids or food in hard plastics; avoid cosmetics with parabens and phthalates; don’t use chemical pesticides in your house or garden; replace your scratched Teflon pans; filter your tap water (or used bottled water) if you live in a contaminated area; don’t keep your cell phone close to you when it is turned on.
4. Reach out (and touch someone!): Reach out to at least two friends for support (logistical and emotional) during times of stress, even if it’s through the internet. But if they’re within arms reach, go ahead and hug them, often!
5. Remember to breathe: Learn a basic breathing relaxation technique to let out some steam whenever you start to feel stressed.
6. Get involved: Find out how you can best give something back to your local community, then give it.
7. Cultivate happiness like a garden: Make sure you do one thing you love for yourself on most days (it doesn’t have to take long!).
The Mo, slang for moustache, and November come together each year for Movember.
Movember challenges men to change their appearance and the face of men’s health by growing a moustache. The rules are simple, start Movember 1st clean-shaven and then grow a moustache for the entire month. The moustache becomes the ribbon for men’s health, the means by which awareness and funds are raised for cancers that affect men. Much like the commitment to run or walk for charity, the men of Movember commit to growing a moustache for 30 days.
The idea for Movember was sparked in 2003 over a few beers in Melbourne, Australia. The plan was simple – to bring the moustache back as a bit of a joke and do something for men’s health. No money was raised in 2003, but the guys behind the Mo realized the potential a moustache had in generating conversations about men’s health. Inspired by the women around them and all they had done for breast cancer, the Mo Bros set themselves on a course to create a global men’s health movement.
In 2004 the campaign evolved and focused on raising awareness and funds for the number one cancer affecting men – prostate cancer. 432 Mo Bros joined the movement that year, raising $55,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia – representing the single largest donation they had ever received. The Movember moustache has continued to grow year after year, expanding to the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, the Netherlands and Finland. In 2009, global participation of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas climbed to 255,755, with over one million donors raising $42 Million US equivalent dollars for Movember’s global beneficiary partners.
Please help RC Cancer Centers raise awareness about prostate and testicular cancer by donating to our Movember team at: http://us.movember.com/mospace/586356/ .
That gentle touch, that special look, that warm feeling that comes from within. Intimacy is a gentle reminder of love, caring, passion, and trust. That sense of belonging to someone other than ourselves.
For men dealing with prostate cancer, the challenges are many: from realizing that their bodies are being invaded by this disease and having to decide whether to get treated or carefully wait, while wondering if their ability to be intimate may be affected by the type of treatment chosen. After going through the ups and downs of it all, one thing remains – you are alive! While the relationship with your partner may change, enjoying your adult life is not over.
Now is the time to talk to your partner, and communicate as openly and honestly as you ever have about sex and intimacy: what you need, what you want, and what you are feeling. Your partner can help you get through this difficult time, and you shouldn’t sacrifice the relationship while fighting prostate cancer. Your physician can also help. Ask questions, talk about your fears and learn how deal with each aspect of this life-changing experience.
Is it okay to have sex during treatment? Talk to your doctor to learn if it is okay for you to have sex. It depends on your type of treatment. Most men can have sex during their treatment.
When interest in sex dwindles, it is not cause for fear or that something is wrong. Be easy on yourself. You are going through a lot. You may be worried or tired from your treatment. Most likely you will feel better once treatment ends. For now, talk with your partner and find other ways to stay close to each other.
Sexual changes happen very slowly over a period of six months to one year after radiation therapy. Talk with your doctor or nurse to learn what you should expect.
The emotional connection you get from intimacy should not be erased by cancer treatment.
Take control of your prostate health. And help other men do the same.
Look around any crowded event and you can spot them. The fashion balds. Years ago, we had Sinead O’Connor. Today you can spot dozens of men who opt to shave their heads and be fashion forward rather than admit to thinning hair or a bald spot. Others find it macho to look like they just jumped off a bottle of Mr. Clean at the local grocery store. On a sunny day it can sometimes be downright blinding if you don’t have a pair of shades to protect yourself from all those reflections. They may indeed be in fashion, but they are not the beautiful balds I am writing about.
The balds I am talking about are the ones who didn’t have a choice. Those whose chemo and/or radiation therapies have not only extracted a heavy physical toll, but took a swing at their outward appearances as well. There is one such patient who I see every afternoon while waiting for my daily radiation. This woman sometimes wears a small scarf but she is clearly not intending to hide anything. She walks from the waiting area into the treatment room freely, sans any attempt to hide her reality. I don’t know her well, but to me she is absolutely stunning inside and out.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not in the least berating those who choose to wear a wig or baseball cap. I couldn’t put up with all of those averted eyes or stares from those who do not know how to react. Of course, as a man, baldness is much easier to get away with these days. Whenever I see a woman or young child without hair, I might wonder what cancer or other disease they are dealing with in their life, but I always see their eyes, their smile, and their face. Instantly their true inner and outer beauty is spoken. More often than not, they reveal a character, confidence, bravery and grace that is enviable.
I always meet their eyes. It’s not a there but for the grace of God moment. (When it comes to cancer, I no longer qualify for such moments, anyway…) It’s pure admiration. I want them to know that I see them and appreciate their battles.
This Friday, there is a campaign, Be Bold, Be Bald. For one day, participants will be wearing bald caps and raising funds to support cancer research and outreach. At first, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about the bald caps. Was it mockery? Insensitive? No. The more I think about it, the more I like it. It sends a strong message that cancer patients everywhere should not feel isolated. They are not alone. They are beautiful in their openness and determination.
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Also known as RC Cancer Centers.