The weekend news report: April 11, 2009

The concurrence of the Passover and Easter holidays this year appears to have limited medical science reports this weekend. There are really only two reports worth mentioning, and even they are of limited interest.

Mitra and Khoo have reviewed issues affecting the adjuvant use of radiotherapy and other forms of treatment following prostatectomy in men with significant risk of progressive disease. The lack of standardized guidelines for such patients is a well-known problem, and there are plenty of experts who believe that most such patients should be enrolled in clinical trials. The authors outline the pre- and post-surgical clinical considerations that underlie the discussion around the requirement for adjuvant therapy, including radiotherapy, androgen deprivation therapy, and chemotherapy. Principles for the use of local and systemic therapies are also discussed.

Arlen et al. have published a very “rosy cheeked” review of the current state of “novel immunotherapy” research in the treatment of prostate cancer. With the failure of several immunotherapeutics (e.g., GVAX) and what looks like a limited effectiveness (at best) of Provenge, The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink is not aware of any other “vaccine type” immunotherapeutic agent currently in advanced clinical trials for prostate cancer. However, Arlen and colleagues manage to write that, “recent findings have demonstrated that new paradigms of combination therapies involving vaccines, employed in clinical trials with appropriate design and end points, may ultimately lead to cancer vaccines being used to treat various malignancies.” This may well be true, but the only cancer “vaccine” that seems ton have any hope of approval for treatment of prostate cancer in the next 3 year is Provenge, and we should be clearer about that possibility by the end of the month.

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