Your Sunday prostate cancer news: September 21

The current report covers news from last Thursday through this morning. (Your editor needed a couple of personal days for some quality time!)

  • The FTC has again sought to stop certain companies from making false advertising claims about cancer cures.
  • A new center is to focus on access to prostate cancer screening and partricipation in clinical trials among African-Americans in South Carolina.
  • An “opinion piece” in the International Herald Tribune addresses lifstyle-related issues and cancer risk.
  • A new study provides 2-year data on the use of Fosamax in prevention of bone loss for men under treatment with hormone therapy for prostate cancer.

The US Federal Trade Commission (the FTC) has charged five companies with making false and misleading claims for cancer cures and said Thursday that it has reached settlements with six others. The companies had been marketing such products as essiac teas, other herbal mixtures, laetrile, black salve (a corrosive ointment) and mushroom extracts. The companies against which the FTC has filed complaints of false and deceptive advertising are:

  • Omega Supply, of San Diego, California
  • Native Essence Herb Company, of El Prado, New Mexico
  • Daniel Chapter One, of Portsmouth, Rhode Island
  • Gemtronics, Inc., of Franklin, North Carolina and
  • Herbs for Cancer, of Surprise, Arizona

The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink suggests that if you are in any way suspicious about the claims being made about the effects of non-prescription products for the treatment of prostatwe cancer (or any other form of cancer), your should follow the guidance offered by the FTC. This applies particularly to products that are marketed to you over the Internet.

The State of South Carolina’s Centers of Economic Excellence (CoEE) Program has approved $3.6 million in funds for a new Center of Economic Excellence in Prostate Cancer Disparities Research. This center is a three-way collaboration among the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), the University of South Carolina (USC), and South Carolina State University (SCSU). According to Dr. Marvella Ford of MUSC Hollings Cancer Center (HCC), “The new center will work to increase prostate cancer screenings and access to clinical trials for African-American men in South Carolina. It is designed to help make South Carolina a world-class leader in this emerging area of medical research and will serve as a training ground for students and junior faculty.”

An article entitled “We can stop the cancer epidemic, ” by one of the founding members of the Board of Directors of Doctors Without Borders was published on Friday in the International Herald Tribune. Dr. David Servan-Schreiber (himself a cancer survivor) argues that significant changes in lifestyle, combined with major reductions in the use of known carcinogens could significantly impact the current incidence and prevalence of cancer in the the Western world and lower the potential threat of cancer in the less developed world.

Greenspan et al. have published data on 2 years of treatment with alendronate (Fosomax) in men receiving ADT for non-metastatic prostate cancer. This was a randomized, double-bland, prospective trial in which they examined changes in bone density and turnover with sustained, discontinued, or delayed alendronate  or placebo in 112 men receiving ADT. The men who were initially randomized to receive alendronate and were randomly reassigned at year 2 to continue on alendronate had additional bone density gains at the spine (mean, 2.3 ± 0.7 percent) and hip (mean, 1.3 ± 0.5 percent; both P < 0.01); the men randomly assigned to placebo in year 2 maintained density at the spine and hip but lost bone density at the forearm  (mean, -1.9 ± 0.6 percent; P < 0.01). Patients randomly assigned to begin alendronate in year 2 after receiving placebo in year 1 experienced improvements in bone mass at the spine and hip, but experienced less of an increase compared with those who initiated alendronate at baseline. Men receiving alendronate for 2 years experienced a mean increase in bone density at the spine (6.7 ± 1.2 percent) and at the hip (3.2 ± 1.5 percent; both P <0 .05). The authors conclude that men with non-metastatic prostate cancer receiving ADT who also take once-weekly alendronate have improved bone density and decreases in bone turnover. A second year of alendronate provides additional skeletal benefit, whereas discontinuation results in bone loss and increased bone turnover.  The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink notes that this study expands the available information on a total of four drugs that can be use to ameliorate the adverse effects of ADT on bone density and potentially on risk for fractures: zoledronic acid (Zometa), pamidronate (Aredia), alendronate (Fosamax), and toremifine. The first three are alreasy available on the market (at least in the USA). GTx appears to be likely to file a new drug application for toremifine 80 mg later this year. It would seem that it is time for head-to-head trials between these agents.

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