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Physicians Update


Physicians Update

Fall 2010

New Directions in Drug Therapy


PU Fall10-Drug therapyFor patients with hormone-resistant metastatic prostate cancer, two recently approved drugs are extending survival with minimal toxicity, according to Matthew Rettig, M.D., medical oncologist in the UCLA Prostate Cancer Program.

Provenge (sipuleucel T), the first FDA-approved cancer vaccine, is used for advanced prostate cancer patients who are asymptomatic. The vaccine is patient-specific: a portion of the patient’s white blood cells are removed and stimulated with the drug, activating them to target tumor cells once re-injected into the body. As one of the testing sites for clinical trials of Provenge, UCLA has been able to make it available to patients from the start.

Dr. Rettig explains that Jevtana (cabazitaxel) is a new chemotherapy drug approved for patients at the other end of the spectrum — those who have already been treated extensively with chemotherapy, including Taxotere (docetaxel). Patients whose cancer continues to progress after Taxotere — previously the only chemotherapy drug shown to extend survival — are now treated with Jevtana, which can also extend survival.

On the horizon for metastatic prostate cancer patients, Dr. Rettig notes, are two drugs that target the hormonal microenvironment inside the tumor cell.

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