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Researchers and doctors are always looking for more effective and alternative treatments for prostate cancer. New prostate cancer treatment research is going on in several areas at present. PROSTATE CANCER - NEW TREATMENT BY RADIOTHERAPY Research is continuing to try and improve technology and techniques to allow radiotherapy to the prostate gland to be more effective and to have fewer side effects. One way is to reduce the amount of radiation received by normal organs (bladder, bowel etc) and this has been improving over the last few years with better machines and techniques such as "conformal radiotherapy" and "IMRT". Work is also being carried out on combining brachytherapy with external therapy to allow some of the benefits of brachytherapy (fewer side effects, higher overall dose to the prostate cancer) to be used for men with more advanced prostate cancer without compromising the chance of cure. NEW HORMONE THERAPY FOR PROSTATE CANCER Some newer prostate cancer hormone treatments have fewer side effects than older hormone based drugs. Some are also felt to be more effective. All the time researchers are testing to try and find the best hormone tablets or injections for use in prostate cancer. Other research is going on to try and work out the best time to give hormone treatment in prostate cancer and whether it is best to combine this treatment with other types of treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Trials are currently being run to answer these questions and the results should be available in the next few years. IMPROVEMENTS IN CHEMOTHERAPY TREATMENT FOR PROSTATE CANCER In the past prostate cancer did not respond very well to chemotherapy drugs. However now there are newer drugs which are more powerful against prostate cancer and these have started to be used with more frequency in late prostate cancer which has already spread to other organs and which has become resistant to hormone treatments. The best drug found so far is Docetaxel, a new type of chemotherapy drug. It has several side effects including hair loss, nausea and risk of infection. Doctors are now looking to see if Docetaxel would work even better as a combination with other drugs. USE OF BISPHOSPHONATE DRUGS FOR PROSTATE CANCER TREATMENT These are a group of drugs which are most often used in treating osteoporosis. It has been

recently found that they can also help reduce pain associated with cancer deposits or secondaries in the bones. They may also help reduce the risk of these abnormal bones from breaking or fracturing, by slowing down the damage caused to the bone by the cancer. Research is ongoing to look at which of these drugs is the best for treating prostate cancer with bone disease and when the best time to start treatment with these drugs is. ALTERNATIVE TO SURGERY FOR TREATMENT OF EARLY PROSTATE CANCER There are 2 new treatments which are being researched as an alternative to surgery for some men with localised prostate cancer. Both options would not require a general anaesthetic (you would not need to be put to sleep) making them lower risk. Both treatments also have fewer side effects than radical surgery ("prostatectomy"). However neither has been in use long enough to know if it will prevent prostate cancer from coming back as effectively as standard treatments (surgery and radiotherapy). Cryotherapy is the killing of cancer cells by freezing them. Needles are inserted into the prostate gland under local anaesthetic and liquid nitrogen is passed along them to freeze the prostate and the cancer cells within it. Currently it is being used for men whose prostate cancer has come back despite a first more conventional treatment and so is only being trialled for use as a first treatment option. HIFU stands for high frequency ultrasound. Here ultrasound waves are directed to where there are cancer cells and are these are used to heat them up, thus killing them. In prostate cancer the ultrasound probe would be put into the back passage and from here ultrasound waves would be fired towards the prostate gland. The results so far have been good in that the treatment is safe and effective. NEW TREATMENTS FOR PROSTATE CANCER IN VERY EARLY STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT There are a number of alternative treatments which are still at a highly experimental stage of development. Gene therapy aims to replace the faulty genes in cancer cells with good ones which would allow the cell to self destruct if it felt it had become too mutated. (Cancer cells have lost this self destruct ability and continue to grow and divide despite having many abnormalities which would normally force the cell to die.) Vaccine treatment looks at ways of making the bodies own immune system recognise and kill cancerous sells. Endothelin blockers are a new type of drug treatment which works by preventing the prostate cancer cells to grow. Many people may have heard that Vitamin D is being used in the treatment of prostate cancer however this therapy is in the very early experimental stages and is no where near being used in clinics as a cancer treatment. Vitamin D has been reported to block receptors on prostate cancer cells thereby slowing the rate of their growth but there is NO clinical evidence that this is in fact the case. Some researchers claim that the active form of Vitamin D slows the growth of prostate cancer but as yet this has only been tested on mice and other small animals. Beta-sitosterol is a herbal remedy that people have started to associate with prostate cancer treatment. This natural plant fat has apparently been proven effective for the treatment of an

enlarged prostate but not necessarily prostate cancer. According to research Beta-sitosterol MAY help to prevent the emergence of prostate cancer but this has not been clinically proven yet.

Adrian Jones writes on several forms of cancer. Further information is available on his website dealing with prostate cancer and New treatments for Prostate Cancer. You may reprint this if you include this credit.

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What You Don't Know About Prostate Cancer May Shock You!