Prostate cancer news reports: Saturday, May 9, 2009

This morning’s news reports discuss:

  • Vasectomy and prostate cancer
  • Preservation of erectile function during radical prostatectomy
  • Interferon-alfa as a treatment for localized prostate cancer
  • Immunotherapeutic agents in treatment of prostate cancer

Schwingl et al. have shown that there is no association between vasectomy and prostate cancer risk in developing countries such as China, Nepal, and the Republic of Korea. The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink is amazed at the way this old wives’ tale has to be disproved over and over and over again!

In a study of 183 potent men, Rabbani et al. have demonstrated that there is a definite association between preoperative erectile function, the results of intraoperative cavernous nerve stimulation (CaNS) at radical prostatectomy (RP), and the recovery of erectile function. However, they also showed that age and change in penile girth  were independent predictors of erectile function after prostatectomy. Indeed the authors concluded that, “While CaNS results after RP correlated strongly with the degree of [neurovascular bundle (NVB)] preservation, the degree of penile girth change, rather than degree of surgeon-documented NVB preservation, was independently predictive of the recovery of” erectile function. The manufacturers of the CaverMap device have issued a somewhat misleading media release about the results of this study, which contained no comment from the study authors.

Emerson and Morales have reported long-term results of the intraprostatic administration of interferon-alfa (IFNα) in 10 men with localized prostate cancer. The 10 trial participants were injected with IFNα once weekly for 5 weeks. Prostate biopsies were taken and PSA levels were measured bi-annually or until the men had an alternative treatment. Biopsies after treatment were negative in 3/10 patients. Of the remaining seven, six initially chose to continue watchful waiting, and  five of these six went on to have alternative treatment. Of the three men with initial negative biopsies, one died from unrelated causes 13 years later, with an undetectable PSA level; the second remains asymptomatic 13 years later but has an elevated PSA level. The last patient has a low PSA level (< 4 ng/ml), negative biopsies, and “no cancer” in a resection specimen, 64 months after treatment. The authors conclude that this formof therapy appears to offer antitumour activity in some patients, and may be worthy of further investigation.

Harzstark and Small have reviewed the extensive data now available on immunotherapeutic agents for the treatment of prostate cancer. They discuss clinical results for the most promising developments, including cytokine-based therapy with GM-CSF; vaccines; antibody-based immunotherapies, including anti–cytotoxic T lymphocyte associated antigen 4 therapy and antibodies against additional targets; and dendritic cell-based immunotherapy. Their full review is available on line,

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