Which Prostate Cancer Treatment Is Right for You? What You Need to Know

Which Prostate Cancer Treatment Is Right for You? What You Need to Know from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

What do you need to know before deciding which treatment is best for YOUR prostate cancer? Dr. Maha Hussain discusses the role of key tests in choosing therapy, including biomarker testing, provides tips for partnering with your care team and reviews recent research news.

Dr. Maha Hussain is the Deputy Director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. Learn more about this expert here.

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Transcript:

Katherine:

Hello, and welcome. I’m Katherine Banwell, your host for today’s program. Today, we’re going to discuss how to access the most personalized prostate cancer therapy for your individual disease and why it’s essential to insist on key testing. Before we meet our guest, let’s review a few important details. 

The reminder email you received about this program contains a link to program materials. If you haven’t already, click on that link to access information to follow along during this webinar. At the end of this program, you’ll receive a link to a program survey. Please take a moment to provide feedback about your experience today in order to help us plan future webinars.  

Finally, before we get into the discussion, please remember that this program is not a substitute for seeking medical advice. Please refer to your healthcare team about what might be best for you. 

All right, let’s meet our guest today. Joining me is Dr. Maha Hussain. Dr. Hussain, would you please introduce yourself? 

Dr. Hussain:

Sure. Thank you, Katherine. 

It’s my pleasure to join you. And to the audience, nice to meet you all virtually. My name is Maha Hussain. I am a genitourinary medical oncologist with a focus on prostate cancer and bladder cancer. And I am a professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, and endowed professor there. And I also serve as the deputy director for the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. 

Katherine:

Wonderful. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us today. 

Dr. Hussain:

My pleasure. 

Katherine:

I’d like to start by asking about developments in prostate cancer research and treatment. Experts recently gathered at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, also known as ASCO, to share their research. 

So, what were the highlights from that meeting that you feel patients should know about? 

Dr. Hussain:

I think probably perhaps I can focus on two major – what I would consider major highlights, and those were the results from two randomized Phase III clinical trials. 

One of the trials is called the VISION trial. And the VISION trial was a Phase III randomized trial evaluating lutetium-PSMA-617 treatment in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. And the delightful thing about this study is that that study was positive. The PSMA story has been really going on for a few years now. And there’s the PSMA for purposes of scans, imaging, to assess the cancer. And the FDA just approved a PSMA PET imaging this year. 

I think it was in May when it was approved. And that would help better define if the cancer is spread or not, and it help with the decision regarding treatment. But the second part is treatment purposes, so identifying the cancer location and trying to attack it with a specific sort of targeted attack to the tumor is really important. 

And so, the FDA is currently looking at this particular agent. And I am hopeful that we will hear soon from the FDA, hopefully before the end of the year, and maybe – who knows? – maybe by summer, middle summer or end of summer. Because I do think that would be a major benchmark in there. And so, that’s one thing. 

The other clinical trial that I thought was interesting from a data perspective – and for disclosure, I am one of the investigators on this study. And this was an intergroup Southwest Oncology, or SWOG, sponsored clinical trial. So, it’s a federal study that Dr. Aggarwal presented. And this was a study that was aiming at maximizing, again, the anti-tumor therapy with the use of a drug which I call is the younger brother of abiraterone. 

So, abiraterone is a drug that is FDA-approved and has been around for several years right now for both castration-resistant prostate cancer and certainly hormone-sensitive metastatic disease. And so, TAK 700 (Orteronel) is a younger brother, I call it, of abiraterone. And one of the potential advantageous when this trial was designed was the fact that you don’t need to use prednisone. And the trial was completed. It was a national clinical trial. And what was interesting is that there is certainly what appears to be a potential benefit, but not in terms of the conclusive based on the way the study was designed.

Having said that, what I thought was remarkable is that patients who basically were only on the control arm was LHRH therapy, so this could’ve been like Lupron, Zoladex, or something like that plus bicalutamide, which is what we call combined androgen deprivation. And that was sort of like the strongest control arm we could do at the time when the trial was designed. 

Remarkably, the patients who were on that arm had a median survival of basically 70 months. That’s the median. That’s the bell-shaped curve with the number in the middle. Seventy months is probably the longest ever in any other randomized trials in this disease space, in the hormone sensitive space. So, that tells us is that men are living longer with prostate cancer, even though it’s metastatic disease; and, yes, it’s not necessarily curable, but men are living longer. And it’s a function of all of the better treatments that are supportive care and everything that was going on.  

And so, the control arm, as I mentioned, was the 70.2 months. The actual experimental arm was about 81.1 months. And again, I don’t know where things will go from this. Obviously, I’m not the sponsor not the FDA. But the point here is that men are living longer, and so wellness and health become even more so important than we ever did. And as I tell my patients, every day you’ll live longer. The odds of living longer is there because of better treatments coming on. 

So, to me – not to take too much time from the interview – to me, these were the two highlights: new, approved – I’m sorry, new treatment that I’m hoping will be FDA-approved and, obviously, the fact that men are living longer.  

Katherine:

How can patients keep up to date on the research that’s going on? 

Dr. Hussain:

I’m a bit biased, obviously. I’m a member of ASCO. 

And what I would recommend to my patients is to look at the cancer.net website. The cancer.net is a website that is an ASCO-generated website specifically for patients and families to review. It is vetted. The committees are not run just by physicians, oncologists, a multidisciplinary team, but also patient representative. So, the lingo and the presentation are lay-friendly, I call it, there. 

The other part I would say, the NCI website, and the American Cancer Society, the American Urological Association. I would say there’s a lot of stuff on the media. The difficulty is vetting what is sort of fake, what is not so accurate, or bias versus there. I also think that the NCCN has also some resources for patients. 

And one thing I always tell patients: explore, look, but make sure that you talk to your doctor about the meanings of everything because sometimes it can be not – it could be misleading, I should say, or maybe not very clear on what the implications are. 

Katherine:

Right. One thing that’s a topic on the mind of many people right now is COVID. 

Dr. Hussain:

Yeah. 

Katherine:

Is the COVID vaccination safe and effective for prostate cancer patients? 

Dr. Hussain:

The answer is yes and yes. So, I have to say, by default, I deal mostly with older men. Age brings in other comorbidities. And certainly, while I see all kinds of shades of gray in terms of the disease extent, going all the way from newly diagnosed all the way to end-stage disease, the bulk of the patients I end up seeing tend to have more systemic disease and have other issues going on. And I have to say, surprisingly, less than a handful of my patients had the infection. 

Only one required hospitalization with supportive measure, but not even needed incubation; however, he needed a lot of CPAP and other respiratory support. I’m not aware of any of my patients or my colleague’s patients who deal with prostate cancer that have died from COVID. So, I would say that’s the good news and that we have not seen a big hit in the population that I deal with. 

I also know that I would say 99.9 percent of my patients have opted to be vaccinated, and they have tolerated the vaccine just fine. There’s only one case, which I actually even saw just this week, who had been vaccinated but have a very, very severe end-stage disease with significantly compromised bone morrow, who got infected but hospitalized for a few days and is recovering. 

And so, I would say just by the pool of patients I see, my answers are yes and yes. 

Katherine:

Very good. Thank you. 

Dr. Hussain:

And I would encourage all the audience to go get vaccinated. I myself am vaccinated. And I’ve advised all my family members to be vaccinated, just to clarify that too. 

Katherine:

Good. Good to know. Dr. Hussain, we’re going to spend most of this conversation talking about advanced prostate cancer. But before we move on, would you give us a brief overview of the stages of prostate cancer? 

Dr. Hussain:

Absolutely. So, with any cancer, we count sort of like four stages. But I would say in prostate cancer the biggest thing is when the cancer is newly diagnosed, which could be confined to the prostate or locally advanced, meaning the cancer has gotten outside the capsule of the prostate but still within that pelvic region. 

There is the group of patients who have pelvic lymph nodes at time of diagnosis. And of course, that is the patients who have systemic disease, which would be technically stage four. Now, the systemic disease implies any abnormality that is found on scans that is beyond the public region. So, that could be lymph nodes in the back of the belly. That could be thoracic lymph nodes. That could be neck nodes. That could be lung lesions, of course, or bone, or liver. 

Now, the most common area where the cancer goes to is really – when we talk about metastatic disease – is the bone. And then lymph is another area where the cancer goes to. Prostate cancer that is confined to the prostate is curable in the vast majority of patients. There is a category of men who undergo surgery or radiation, and then their PSA begins to go up afterwards. 

And this is what we call biochemical relapse. And this is a situation where we know that, in all likelihood obviously, especially of the patients who have had their prostate out, that the cancer has spread. With the current imagine, a good chunk of times, we do not find anything because we’re able to pick up PSA that goes from undetectable to 0.2 to 0.3, but there’s not enough cancer to show up on the scans. We’re hoping, obviously, the better scans, the PET Axumin scan, the PSMA scans are going to help us to identify sites of metastases. 

But this is a group of men where if there is no cancer visible and the only thing we’re dealing with is PSA that’s going up, if they’ve had surgery, then there’s room for what we call salvage therapy with radiation and hormonal treatment. The case is a bit different if there’s only just the prostate – if radiation was given previously. And of course, we talked about metastatic disease. 

Katherine:

Yeah. Once someone has been diagnosed, what tests are used to help understand the aggressiveness of their disease and their overall prognosis? 

Dr. Hussain:

Well, I think there is different basic things, as in, what was the extent of the cancer? How did it look under the microscope? And what is the PSA levels? So, these are the general things. There are different sort of genomic panels that the urologist will use to kind of decipher and other things to kind of help with figuring out aggressiveness and things like that. What I would say is this, is a patient who is diagnosed and has a cancer, and at a minimum has what we consider a Gleason 7 prostate cancer – so, that’s the scoring system that is done with the original Gleason score, or the new patterns where it’s talking about intermediate risk to high risk – to me, this is a cancer that needs to be treated. 

And again, that’s all to do with if a person has other comorbidities, they have some other terminal condition that’s a separate story. But talking generically, that would be when we would recommend. And these are the patients that are generally not seen by the medical oncologist. They’re seen by the urologist, and then they can refer them to radiation oncology also for consultation. 

Katherine:

Now that we understand how test results can help inform a patient’s cancer and how it may behave. Let’s discuss how they can affect treatment options for men with advanced disease. First, let’s do a brief review of the treatment types currently available. There’s hormone therapy, right. What else? 

Dr. Hussain:

Perhaps, it’s simpler if we focus on advanced disease, specifically metastatic disease. 

So, if that’s the deal, then the backbone of treatment is hormone treatment. And it really is. We call it hormone, but technically it’s an anti-hormone. What we’re trying to do is shut down the hormonal pathway that stimulate the testes, which is the factory that makes testosterone. So, we are looking at shutting down testosterone production from the testes in order to starve the cancer. 

Now, the male hormone is produced predominantly – somewhere about 95 percent of it is made by the testes, and then there are about 5 percent-ish that comes from other sources. These are, again, male hormones like the adrenal gland and so on. And there was a while ago some research – I want to say from the MD Anderson crowd, but this is two years ago – that suggested also that the tumor may start to make sort of in-house production of male hormone to support itself. 

Now, having said that, again, testes continue to be the source of the majority of the male hormone. And so, historically, the first data that showed benefit was actually by surgically removing the testes, which is what we call orchiectomy or bilateral orchiectomy. And then medications began hitting the market and were evaluated in the late ’80s and then 1990s, beginning with Lupron – which by the way, in the ’80s, it was an injection that the patient had to give themselves every day, which is remarkable. 

But even then, there is a personal preference by patients to go and take injections as opposed to go through surgery with orchiectomy. But still, I would say for some patients it may be an option until it ought to be discussed as an option. Then what we know is this, is because of the potential other sources for the male hormone, the concept of what we call combined androgen depravation was being evaluated. 

And again, this goes back to the ’80s when the first drug was flutamide and then bicalutamide, and there are other drugs that became. And they kind of added a sprinkle, I call it, to survival. But it wasn’t dramatic, huge differences in survival. And so, generally, while we used it, everybody believed in using it. Moving forward, the drugs like abiraterone, enzalutamide, apalutamide are the three hormonal drugs that have demonstrated conclusively really an advantage in terms of prolonging life when added to the Lupron. 

So, what I tell my patients is that, when it comes to hormone treatment there is really no way around it. You can delay it. Some people are exploring for some patients who don’t have a lot of cancer, maybe a couple of areas, maybe just do targeted radiation and then leave the person alone to buy them some treatment-free time. 

And, to me, this is where the discussion that has to happen with the patient. What is the objective? Is the objective to kind of be ahead of the game and maximally treat the cancer with the hope of prolonging life? Or is the objective to delay treatment? And I would tell you that, with these types of conversation, nine out of 10 or 9.5 out of 10 men opt for moving aggressively up front with management. So, that’s that. 

Now, the one thing I should point out, one of the trials that also was a landmark trial in this disease was the study CHAARTED, which was an intergroup clinical trial at the time it was designed, led by ECOG, and the PI was Dr. Chris Sweeney. I was part of the team that worked on the design also of the study. 

And that was a trial that looked at adding docetaxel to hormone therapy, versus hormone therapy alone, to try to see if it adds something. Historically, all the chemotherapies prior to that that were added to hormone treatment for patients with newly diagnosed metastatic disease had not delivered. And docetaxel did. 

However, one thing I should point out, based on that trial – and I don’t want to go into too much details for the sake of time – the patients that seemed to be benefiting were the patients that had more aggressive, more disease in their system. And so, liver metastases, lung metastases spread in the bone at different areas, not like few isolated areas in the spine or the pelvis, but much more than that. 

And so, for the patients who have what we call high-volume prostate cancer based on scans – and I’m happy to explain what that means if it’s needed – these are the patients that I would offer either the docetaxel plus hormone treatment, which is the injection, or the injection plus the hormonal pills that I mentioned earlier. 

Katherine:

What about targeted therapy? How is that used? 

Dr. Hussain:

Okay. So, let’s begin with the molecularly targeted therapy. So, as we speak right now, for patients who have newly diagnosed metastatic disease that we call hormone sensitive, molecularly targeted therapy is not standard of care. So, I would encourage patients who may qualify for clinical trial to be involved in those. The flipside is – we can talk about it – is that molecularly targeted therapies, specifically with PARP inhibitors have pretty much entered in the space of prostate cancer with a couple of drugs that were FDA-approved. 

The other way of targeted treatment, which would be what we refer to targeted radiation, this would be a different story. This is not systemic treatment. This is a local treatment. And what is done is basically if patients do not have a lot of cancer in their body based on scans, and only certain areas, and they are starting systemic therapy, they can certainly consult with a radiation oncologist to target radiation to areas that are visible on scan. So, if somebody has a couple of, let’s say, pelvic bone lesions, maybe a lymph node, and they are already starting systemic therapy, they can consult with a radiation oncologist focal radiation. And so, that would be the general scheme. 

Katherine:

Many patients are confused about the role of genetics and biomarker testing in prostate cancer care. 

For people who haven’t heard of some of these terms before, let’s go into the definitions. So, what is genomic or biomarker testing, first of all?  

Dr. Hussain: So, I think there’s one thing. Maybe I can explain because the wording can be confusing. So, there is the genetics, and there is the genomics. The genetics would be what we inherit from our families. So, this would be present in our body. The genomics testing would be to look for what the structure of the genes of the cancer itself, cancer cells itself. Now, that doesn’t mean that this was inherited. It’s just that this is a renegade, and it evolved. And that is what is going to show up. 

The reason these two are important, both of them have implications potentially for treatment or perhaps clinical trials. And again, with the PARP inhibitors, the BRCA-like genes will have implications for treatment sort of for resistance cancers. 

With regard to the genetics, the implications are for, again, inheritance of family and potential risk for blood relatives. Now, there are panels that are FDA-approved for the purpose of genetic testing. And the requirement or the indications right now, anybody who presents with metastatic disease or an aggressive disease and diagnosis, the recommendation is to proceed with the genetic testing, certainly counseling and testing, because there are some people who prefer not to be tested. And that’s something else. 

What I tell my patients is this, even if the testing is done and it was negative for inherited genes that might put the patient family at potential higher risk, the fact that a person has prostate cancer by default puts potential, adds risks to family, to blood relatives. 

And the risks aren’t just for the males with regard to prostate cancer, but certainly breast cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer potentially, and things of that sort. So, this is where I think a patient needs to be discussing with their doctors. And certainly, there are many centers that have genetics counselor, and so that’s where I generally refer my patients to. I counsel them myself, and then refer them also for more discussions with genetics counselor. 

Katherine:

What exactly are genetic mutations? And how do they impact a treatment path? 

Dr. Hussain:

Well, I think, again, it’s the changes that happens in specific genes that may promote the aggressiveness of a cancer. And so, the BRCA gene is one of the oldest genes that have been identified in breast cancer. And essentially, the body regulates itself. 

And when cancer cells come up and they sort of – the body no longer sustains that regulation, the genetic regulation in those cancer cells. Those cancer cells will behave the way they want to. That means that they’re going to grow faster. That means they could be resistant to treatment and things like that. And so, that’s what we check for, these alterations. And there are certain medications that would allow – and again, in prostate cancer, it’s not a lot. It’s just, as I said, right now the only things that are proven is the PARP inhibitors. This is essentially to kinda gang over the cancer cell, preventing from allowing it to repair itself so it can continue to grow. 

Katherine:

Some patients may not know if they’ve received these important tests. So, for patients that aren’t all that sure, what key questions should they be asking their physician or their specialist? 

Dr. Hussain:

So, I would say when it comes to the genetics testing, I believe a patient has to consent. 

Because again, we live in the U.S., and this is a private matter for the patient. So, this generally has to be the case. Otherwise, depending on the institution, sometimes some tests will require for the overall testing for looking for any genetic alterations, general tumor alternation. Different centers have different things. But the patient should ask and say to their doctor, “Have my cancer genes been tested? Have my genes been tested? And if they have, what are the results?” Because we generally share with the patients once it’s been done. 

The other things I should point out, some of the good things that have happened recently. Up until recently, when it comes to the tumor genomic testing, tissue was required. Nowadays, the FDA has approved blood tests that several companies now run that can actually collect blood sample and basically test it for circulating tumor cell genes there. 

Now, no testing is 100 percent perfect. But in situations like patients with prostate cancer who may not have recent tissue or adequate tissue for testing, certainly doing the blood test to verify if there is anything reflective of the genes of the cancer, and that may allow for potential actionable-type treatments. Again, up until now, this is more going to apply for potential clinical trials or resistant metastatic disease. 

Katherine:

Are there other important factors to consider, like a patient’s age, that can help them access the best treatment for their prostate cancer? 

Dr. Hussain:

Yes. And I think that age is one factor. What I say and what I tell my fellows, age is to be respected, but used to discriminate in terms of management. 

 We all age. And certainly, the body reserve is not the same. And so, that’s why I would say that has to be respected. But it doesn’t mean that we cannot treat patients. 

And I’ll tell you, it’s interesting. There are times where you have – I have a gentleman who used to run seven miles a day. He was 87 years old. This was in my days when I used to be in Ann Arbor at University of Michigan. And the gentleman came to me, and he said, “Dr. Hussain, I don’t feel good.” And I said, “Sir, why? What has happened?” “I can’t run like I did before.” And I said, “You’re not running?” “No, I am running. I’m just not able to do seven miles a day. I can do only four miles a day.” I’m like, whoa, that’s about 100% more than I do. 

Now, again, I’m bringing this as an extreme example. But for some of the oral agents, like the Olaparib trial, there were men in there literally late-’80s, early-’90s that were included in the clinical trials. Same thing goes for several of the other trials. 

I do think that functionality is important. So, if somebody comes to you so sick they are in a wheelchair, you really have to be very careful. And again, I’m just using kind of extremes. And so, you have to be careful by what you are able to do. And any time the doctor thinks the odds are going to be more harm than good, this is really where absolutely a situation where the physician needs to be careful about it, and the patient needs to understand it also. At the end of the day, it’s a shared decision. 

Katherine:

Before we close, Dr. Hussain, how do you feel about the future or prostate cancer research, and what would you like patients to know? 

Dr. Hussain:

First, let me say that I would love for the patients to know that they are a partner, a most critical partner in the process.  

That we need to continue the research and investment in research. It is research that will end up curing cancer. Wishful thinking will not do it. And patient volunteering, which I think is remarkable across all cancers. The business I’m in, the way that drug discovery and evolution often happen because patients volunteered. And without testing these new treatments and combinations, we will not be able to get better results.  

And I will tell you that, when I started my training, the median survival for patients with resistant prostate cancer was on the magnitude of about nine months. Now it is three years-plus. Now, you could argue, well, that’s not huge. But that is a huge change because, again, we’re picking up the cancers much earlier. And the patients who had, as I mentioned, metastatic disease, again, the longevity then at the time I was in training, but even afterwards, was give and take in the three years. And now we’re talking six-plus years. 

And so, there’s been tremendous progress. And really partnership with the patients and their families and supportive others is very critical, and investment in research. So, yes, advocate constantly for more investment in research. 

Katherine:

All sounds very promising, Dr. Hussain. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. 

Dr. Hussain:

My pleasure. And be well, all of you.  

Katherine:

Thank you. And thank you to all of our partners. If you would like to watch this webinar again, there will be a replay available soon. You’ll receive an email when it’s ready. And don’t forget to take the survey immediately following this webinar. It will help us as we plan future programs. To learn more about prostate cancer and to access tools to help you become a proactive patient, visit powerfulpatients.org. I’m Katherine Banwell. Thanks for joining us. 

How Do Genetic Mutations Impact Prostate Cancer Treatment Options?

How Do Genetic Mutations Impact Prostate Cancer Treatment Options? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

 How do genetic mutations impact prostate cancer treatment options? Dr. Himisha Beltran shares how information about genetic mutations play into treatment decisions and discusses the role of PARP inhibitor therapies and immunotherapies.

Dr. Himisha Beltran is Director of Translational Research in the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Learn more about Dr. Beltran, here.

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Transcript:

Katherine:

Dr. Beltran, are there gene mutations that affect prostate cancer treatment choices?

Dr. Beltran:

Yeah. So, we’re still really in the infancy of precision medicine in prostate cancer, but we’ve come a very long way. The field has identified several classes of mutations that have treatment implications for men with advanced prostate cancer. One class of mutations is in a pathway we call homologous recombination DNA repair. So, what this really is, is a pathway that consists of multiple genes. BRCA2 is the most common, but there are many within this gene family. And this pathway is important in maintaining DNA repair in a cancer.

There are specific types of mutations that can affect treatment choices for advanced prostate cancer. And there are drugs that specifically target these mutations. So, testing for them in is important in the clinic. The drugs that approved today fall into two classes of medications. One is a class of medicines called PARP inhibitors. These drugs specifically are geared towards patients whose cancers harbor mutations in a pathway called homologous recombination.

So, how these mutations impact the cancer is that they work to repair the DNA of a cell. And if a cancer cell has a mutation or a loss of function of one of these genes, they can still survive because there’s another pathway that can come in and take over. If you can now come in what a drug called a PARP inhibitor, and you block that other pathway, those cells are particularly vulnerable. And they die through a process we call synthetic lethality. And so, this is really the rationale for using a PARP inhibitor specifically for patients whose cancer have an alteration in this pathway.

And I mentioned there are a number of genes that are involved. And so, typically, the way they’re tested for is looking at either the primary cancer or a metastatic biopsy or a liquid biopsy. There’s a number of tests that are available to try to look for these mutations. There is a second class of drugs that is approved for prostate cancer patients based on genetic mutations. And that is a class of drug called immunotherapy. But the drug that’s approved is pembrolizumab. The way this drug works is it’s immunotherapy, meaning that it stimulates the patient’s own immune system to fight the cancer.

And this drug does not work in every patient with prostate cancer. We know it only works in a minority of patients whose tumors have specific vulnerabilities that make them amenable to this. And there a number of ways we test for it. There is something called hypermutation where there’s a lot of mutations in the cancer, mismatch repair deficiency which can be detected by DNA sequencing as well as protein expression. And there’s something called microsatellite instability. And so, these are tests that we are also commonly doing. It’s rare in prostate cancer, less than five percent, but it important because there a class of drugs that approved that can specifically target this.

And then, beyond these two pathways that I refer to, there are a number of emerging therapies that are specifically geared towards mutations in the DNA. So, as we do sequencing, we commonly get more information than just this. There are other common mutations in prostate cancer with clinical trials really geared towards individualizing care based on those mutations, whether it be through targeted therapies or immunotherapies or other approaches. So, the field is really moving very quickly. And so, it’s now quite relevant to test to for mutations where it wasn’t the case really not that long ago.

What Is a Prostate Cancer Genetic Mutation?

What Is a Prostate Cancer Genetic Mutation? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

 What is a prostate cancer genetic mutation? Dr. Himisha Beltran defines genetic mutations, where they may occur, and how identification of mutations can assist in prostate cancer detection and care.

Dr. Himisha Beltran is Director of Translational Research in the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Learn more about Dr. Beltran, here.

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Transcript:

Dr. Beltran:

So, genetic mutation refers to changes in the DNA sequence of an individual or their cancer. And so, we know that normal individuals have variations in their inherited or normal DNA that drive diversity. And some of these changes actually in your inherited DNA can predispose to future development of cancer. So, those are important to identify as those are mutations that may help us guide early detection and screening strategies for people at high risk for cancer.

There are also genetic mutations in cancers themselves. And each cancer type is characterized by different patterns of mutations that can sometimes help us in the clinic figure out, where did a cancer come from? Did it come from the prostate, or did it come from somewhere else? Some of these mutations in the cancer can also be targeted with drugs. And there are drug approaches that are developed that specifically target an individual’s mutation in their cancer. And every individual, even within prostate cancer, may be different. And so, this is something that we’re commonly testing for in the cancer itself by doing DNA sequencing to look for letter changes in the DNA.

What Is a Prostate Cancer Biomarker?

What Is a Prostate Cancer Biomarker? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What is a prostate cancer biomarker exactly? Dr. Himisha Beltran defines biomarkers and breaks down three types of biomarkers that help guide optimal care for prostate cancer patients.

Dr. Himisha Beltran is Director of Translational Research in the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Learn more about Dr. Beltran, here.

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Transcript:

Dr. Beltran:

So, the word, ‘biomarker’ is a term that we often use that refers to a set of information or a test that provides insights into a particular diseased state. And in prostate cancer, there are several different types of biomarkers that we use. There are diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive biomarkers. And each of them provide different sets of information. A diagnostic biomarker is a test that improves the diagnosis of prostate cancer, and one that we are very familiar with is PSA test. This is a test that’s commonly done that may lead a suspicion of cancer. That leads to an additional work-up for prostate cancer. And there are other tests, urine, blood, and tissue-based, that can improve the detection of prostate cancer as well as specific types of prostate cancer.

Then there are prognostic biomarkers. A prognostic biomarker is a biomarker that provides insight into how indolent or aggressive a cancer is. And this can inform treatment decisions for newly diagnosed patients in trying to consider whether you should do active surveillance or get local therapy. In the more advanced disease setting, a prognostic biomarker can help us think about treatment intensification strategies for patients that are predicted to not respond as well to traditional approaches. And these are often molecular tests.

And then there are predictive biomarkers, which in opinion, are quite informative in trying to make a prediction as to how likely will respond to a specific treatment. And this is a really emerging field. And in an advanced prostate cancer, one example of a predictive biomarker is a mutation in a gene called BRCA2, which can identify patients more likely to respond to a PARP inhibitor versus those that do not. That’s just one example of how we may be able to use molecular features of a cancer to provide insights into what therapy that patient might benefit from most.

There are no perfect biomarkers. All of these types of biomarkers are just tools that we use to help guide treatment decisions at different stages of prostate cancer.

COVID Vaccines: What Do Prostate Cancer Patients Need to Know?

COVID Vaccines: What Do Prostate Cancer Patients Need to Know? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What do prostate cancer patients need to know about COVID-19 vaccines? Dr. Himisha Beltran shares information about safety, effectiveness, and recommendations for prostate cancer patients in active treatment. 

Dr. Himisha Beltran is Director of Translational Research in the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Learn more about Dr. Beltran, here.

See More From Engage Prostate Cancer

Related Resources

An Update on Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research

How to Engage in Your Prostate Cancer Treatment Decisions

What Is a Prostate Cancer Biomarker?

 


Transcript:

Katherine:

Is the COVID vaccine safe and effective for patients with prostate cancer?

Dr. Beltran:

Absolutely. There really are no contraindications to getting the COIVD vaccine, unless there is some component of the vaccine that a patient cannot tolerate. And prostate cancer patients tend to be older. They can have their lower immune system if they’re getting chemotherapy. So, they’re at higher risk for having complications from COVID itself. So, I do think that it’s something to consider. There are even patients that are undergoing active therapy. They should, I think, consider getting the vaccine.

Katherine:

How does the vaccine effect treatment?

Dr. Beltran:

There should not be any delays or changes in therapy based on getting the vaccine.

An Update on Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research

An Update on Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What’s the latest in prostate cancer treatment and research? Dr. Himisha Beltran shares developments in precision medicine and clinical trials, including how prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) imaging can help provide targeted care.

Dr. Himisha Beltran is Director of Translational Research in the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Learn more about Dr. Beltran, here.

See More From Engage Prostate Cancer

Related Resources

How to Engage in Your Prostate Cancer Treatment Decisions

COVID Vaccines: What Do Prostate Cancer Patients Need to Know?

What Is a Prostate Cancer Genetic Mutation?

 


Transcript:

Katherine:

Dr. Beltran, when it comes to prostate cancer research and emerging treatment options, what are you excited about specifically?

Dr. Beltran:

Well, there’s so much I’m excited about. There’s a lot happening in prostate cancer research. When it comes to precision medicine, we are still at the beginning. We are developing new trials and treatment strategies to target other mutations with drugs that have not yet been approved. We have the capability to interrogate treatment resistance, recognizing that tumors can evolve, and the technologies are such where we can start to understand why different people respond differently to the different treatments that we have, and now come in to try to prevent of bypass that treatment-resistant pathway, which is still a very new field.

I’m also very excited about even our understanding about the inherited mutations that predispose to prostate cancer because that has implications for family members, and one could envision a future where we have better detection and prevention for prostate cancer for high-risk individuals. And then, finally, one class of drugs that we didn’t talk about that is really precision medicine’s strategy is a class of drugs targeting PSMA – prostate-specific membrane antigen.

So, that is a molecular feature of the cancer. It is a protein that is expressed on the cell surface of prostate cancer. It’s not a genetic mutation that we test through genetic sequencing, but we have something called PSMA imaging where we can do molecular imaging to figure out if the prostate cancer expresses this protein. And there are a number of drug approaches that are coming in to target this very specific protein on the cell surface.

And so, I’m very excited about that. I do think that does represent precision medicine, and these are treatments in clinical trials that we’ll hear much more about later this year. And so, I think in general, as we start thinking about how we start treating prostate cancers, we’re moving beyond, “Treat everyone the same,” and really trying to figure out, “Can we really understand, who are the patients? And develop strategies that are more specific for that individual.”

How to Engage in Your Prostate Cancer Treatment Decisions

How to Engage in Your Prostate Cancer Treatment Decisions from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What factors are important to consider when deciding on a prostate cancer treatment approach? Dr. Himisha Beltran reviews key considerations and highlights the important role patients play in their care.

Dr. Himisha Beltran is Director of Translational Research in the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Learn more about Dr. Beltran, here.

See More From Engage Prostate Cancer

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An Update on Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research

COVID Vaccines: What Do Prostate Cancer Patients Need to Know?

How Do Genetic Mutations Impact Prostate Cancer Treatment Options?

 


Transcript:

Katherine:

What are the considerations when choosing treatment for prostate cancer?

Dr. Beltran:

Yeah, so there are many considerations when thinking about a therapy choice for a patient with prostate cancer. Oftentimes, we use clinical features, radiology, blood tests, and now molecular features incorporating into that to really guide care based on how indolent or aggressive the cancer is. There are some cancers that don’t need to be treated that we follow on active surveillance. There are different states where we may do intermittent treatment, weighing the risks and benefits of the therapy.

And then, in the more advanced setting where you need continuous treatment – and there is now many choices of different drugs that are approved for prostate cancer – we often make these choices with our patients based on not just the trajectory of the cancer but also weighing the side effects and quality of life and other issues for those different treatment modalities. And I see precision medicine as providing one extra layer of information to help guide those conversations.

Katherine:

What’s the patient’s role in making treatment decisions?

Dr. Beltran:

The patient is the center. It’s really our role to help inform and partner with them because now we have a lot of choice. And one choice might not be the same for each individual. And so, we use clinical features and features of the cancer, but the other features factor, such as quality of life. It factors cost considerations – the logistics of it all. These can vary across the different treatments. And so, it really requires really going through everything with the patient. And the patient really does have a voice and really should be the center of that treatment decision.

Prostate cancer treatment is complex, and sometimes there are questions there are questions that a patient might have that their physician did not answer adequately. And they really should speak up because it’s important to know what all the options are. There are even things like the DNA sequencing. It can be difficult to interpret. And you may not know what available treatments are there unless you ask the questions.

What You Need to Know Before Choosing a Cancer Treatment

What You Need to Know Before Choosing a Cancer Treatment from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Download Guide

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What steps could help you and your doctor decide on the best treatment path for your specific cancer? This animated video explains how identification of unique features of a specific cancer through biomarker testing could impact prognosis, treatment decisions and enable patients to get the best, most personalized cancer care.


If you are viewing this from outside of the US, please be aware that availability of personalized care and therapy may differ in each country. Please consult with your local healthcare provider for more information.


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TRANSCRIPT:

Dr. Jones:

Hi! I’m Dr. Jones and I’m an oncologist and researcher. I specialize in the care and treatment of patients with cancer. 

Today we’re going to talk about the steps to accessing personalized care and the best therapy for YOUR specific cancer. And that begins with something called biomarker testing.

Before we start, I want to remind you that this video is intended to help educate cancer patients and their loved ones and shouldn’t be a replacement for advice from your doctor.

Let’s start with the basics–just like no two fingerprints are exactly alike, no two patients’ cancers are exactly the same. For instance, let’s meet Louis and another patient of mine, Ben. They both have the same type of cancer and were diagnosed around the same time–but when looked at up close, their cancers look very different.  And, therefore, should be treated differently.

We can look more closely at the cancer type using biomarker testing, which checks for specific gene mutations, proteins, chromosomal abnormalities and/or other molecular changes that are unique to an individual’s disease.

Sometimes called molecular testing or genomic testing, biomarker testing can be administered in a number of ways, such as via a blood test or biopsy. The way testing is administered will depend on YOUR specific situation.

The results could help your healthcare team understand how your cancer may behave and to help plan treatment. And, it may indicate whether targeted therapy might be right for you. When deciding whether biomarker testing is necessary, your doctor will also take into consideration the stage of your cancer at diagnosis.

Louis:

Right! My biomarker testing results showed that I had a specific gene mutation and that my cancer may respond well to targeted therapy.

Dr. Jones, Can you explain how targeted therapy is different than chemo?

Dr. Jones:

Great question! Over the past several years, research has advanced quickly in developing targeted therapies, which has led to more effective options and better outcomes for patients.

Chemotherapy is still an important tool for cancer treatment, and it works by affecting a cancer cell’s ability to divide and grow. And, since cancer cells typically grow faster than normal cells, chemotherapy is more likely to kill cancer cells.

Targeted therapy, on the other hand, works by blocking specific mutations and preventing cancer cells from growing and dividing.

These newer therapies are currently being used to treat many blood cancers as well as solid tumor cancers.  As you consider treatments, it’s important to have all of the information about your diagnosis, including biomarker testing results, so that you can discuss your treatment options and goals WITH your healthcare team.

Louis:

Exactly–Dr. Jones made me feel that I had a voice in my treatment decision. We discussed things like potential side effects, what the course of treatment looks like and how it may affect my lifestyle.

When meeting with your healthcare team, insist that all of your questions are answered. Remember, this is YOUR life and it’s important that you feel comfortable and included when making care decisions. 

Dr. Jones:

And, if you don’t feel your voice is being heard, it may be time to consider a second—or third—opinion from a doctor who specializes in the type of cancer you have. 

So how can you use this information to access personalized treatment?

First, remember, no two cancers are the same. What might be right for someone else’s cancer may not work for you.

Next! Be sure to ask if biomarker testing is appropriate for your diagnosis. Then, discuss all test results with your provider before making a treatment decision. And ask whether testing will need to be repeated over time to identify additional biomarkers.

Your treatment choice should be a shared decision with your healthcare team. Discuss what your options and treatment goals are with your doctor.

And, last, but not least, it’s important to inquire about whether a targeted therapy, or a clinical trial, might be appropriate for you. Clinical trials may provide access to promising new treatments.

Louis:

All great points, Dr. Jones! We hope you can put this information to work for you. Visit powerfulpatients.org to learn more tips for advocating for yourself.

Dr. Jones:

Thanks for joining us today. 


This program is supported by Blueprint Medicines, and through generous donations from people like you.

Prostate Cancer Treatment Decisions: How Do Genetic Test Results Impact Your Options?

Prostate Cancer Treatment Decisions: How Do Genetic Test Results Impact Your Options? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

How do genetic test results impact prostate cancer treatment options? Dr. Nima Sharifi explains BRCA mutations, germline genes, and somatic mutations—and discusses when treatment with PARP inhibitors may be appropriate.

Dr. Nima Sharifi is Director of the Genitourinary (GU) Malignancies Research Center at the Cleveland Clinic. Learn more here.

See More From INSIST! Prostate Cancer

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Should You Have Prostate Cancer Genetic Testing?

Targeted Prostate Cancer Therapies vs. Chemotherapy: What’s the Difference?

Prostate Cancer Staging: What Patients Should Know

 


Transcript:

Dr. Sharifi:        

There are several types of mutations that occur in prostate cancer. We know about a lot of them. We’re beginning to understand the function of many of them, and the role of just a few of them has become a bit clearer in treatment of prostate cancer. So, the one that I think has the clearest implications is something called BRCA mutations.

So, you can get mutations in genes that regulate DNA damage. This can occur in either inherited genes, or these are mutations that can occur in the cancer itself. And this will allow for tumors to become the developed – actually, greater DNA damage. The implications of using this information, genetic testing for these BRCA mutations, are actually several. One is that it may – if it comes in through the germline, then it tells us something about the hereditary or familial component of it.

So, that has implications not only for the patient but also potentially family members. And then the second set of implications has to do with treatment, and specifically treatment that in more advanced cases where there are now two FDA-approved agents that are used specifically for patients who have mutations in these genes.

And we’re still learning a lot about what these genes mean, or mutations of these genes mean for patients in their clinical course. And we’re learning much more information about other mutations which may occur in prostate cancer as well.

So, we should draw a distinction between two different types of genes. One is germline. Germline has to do with the DNA or the genes that you inherit from your parents. And the second category is somatic mutations, or somatic genetics. And this, specifically, has to do with mutations that occur in the cancer cell itself, but that are not inherited from one’s parents.

It’s a very active area of research. So, again, for the vast majority of mutations that we recognize in prostate cancer, we don’t use that to make clinical decisions. There are a few, such as the DNA damage repair genes or BRCA genes – which tell us something about the potential for a more aggressive disease course or a more aggressive disease – and also the potential appropriateness of using agents called PARP inhibitors, which seem to specifically work in patients who have mutations in the BRCA family of genes.

So, in terms of the treatment options, the major genetic tests that allow us to figure out whether systemic or drug treatment option is appropriate or not, is in DNA damage repair genes such as BRCA.

So, for example, in the case of metastatic disease that’s resistant to hormonal therapy and has already been treated with other therapies, if there is a mutation in BRCA or one of the closely related gene members, then use of a drug called a PARP inhibitor may be appropriate, and that could benefit patients.

How Can You Insist on Better Prostate Cancer Care?

How Can You Insist on Better Prostate Cancer Care? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

How can prostate cancer patients access the best care in an evolving treatment landscape? Prostate cancer survivor Jim Schraidt shares his advice for staying up-to-date about treatment developments and for accessing support and resources

Jim Schraidt is a prostate cancer survivor and Chairman of the Board of Directors for Us TOO International. Learn more about Jim Schraidt here.

See More From INSIST! Prostate Cancer

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How Does Us TOO International Support Prostate Cancer Patients and Their Loved Ones?

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Newly Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer? Consider These Key Steps

Newly Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer? Consider These Key Steps

 


Transcript:

Jim Schraidt:              

The really great news is that sort of across the board, from early stage disease through metastatic prostate cancer patients, there are advances that are occurring very rapidly at this point, so rapidly that practitioners have difficulty keeping up with them.

And, honestly, those of us who do some patients support likewise have difficulty keeping up with them. I think, once again, these support groups can serve a useful function in that you have specific questions, you hear about it, you bring together a group of individuals, and somebody in that group may know something about it.

And they can tell you, they can give you information, or they can give you direct Internet links where you can find more information. The other source of information is some of the Us TOO publications, our monthly hot sheet, as well as the website.

There are a couple other websites that I personally regard as excellent. The first would be the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The second would be Prostate Cancer Research Institute. And then finally, ZERO. So, I think if you attend a support group, and talk to other guys, and look at some of these websites, I think that’s a very good starting point for research and trying to get the best and most up-to-date information possible.

There’s a lot of progress being made across the disease spectrum, and it’s very exciting. I mean, for many years, all we had was surgery, radiation, and hormone therapy. But new things are coming online all the time. There are immunotherapies that are frequently genetically based. And there’s new knowledge about the disease itself and making active surveillance available to more patients.

And this is extremely critical because many men can go on with prostate cancer, with low-grade disease, really for their entire lives, and avoid the side effects of treatment.

And even if they don’t, if they delay definitive treatment for a period of years, there may be something new that comes down the pike that is both effective and has a better side-effect profile. This is the kind of research that is a part of what Prostate Cancer Foundation is funding.

So, there’s a lot out there. There’s a lot that’s happening. And I think that should give encouragement to prostate cancer patients. In terms of somebody who is later in the process and having difficulty coping with side effects or disease progression, I think the encouragement is that there are people out there that you can talk to about it, that you’re really not alone, and there are people out there that are anxious to help you, to hear from you, and provide assistance.

For those of us who have been at it a while, we find that helping others enhances our own healing. And so, don’t be reticent about asking for help. Because it’s out there, and it can really make a difference.

Why Prostate Cancer Patients Should Consider Participating in a Clinical Trial

Why Prostate Cancer Patients Should Consider Participating in a Clinical Trial from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Dr. Sumit Subudhi explains why prostate cancer patients should consider participating in clinical trials, the role they play in treatment options for prostate cancer and resources available to find trials. 

Dr. Sumit Subudhi is a Medical Oncologist at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

See More From INSIST! Prostate Cancer

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Targeted Prostate Cancer Therapies vs. Chemotherapy: What’s the Difference?

The Link Between Prostate Cancer and Inherited Mutations

Prostate Cancer Staging: What Patients Should Know

 


Transcript:

Katherine:                   

What would you say to patients who are nervous about participating in a clinical trial?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

Yeah. This is a common question that I deal with in clinic, because we tend to have a lot of trials at MD Anderson. And the first thing, for me, is to understand why they’re nervous, because there’s different reasons why people are nervous.

Some people have heard of placebo trials, where the experimental drug that they’re hoping to get is only given to a portion of the patients and not all. And so, patients are worried what if they get on the placebo arm. And so, what I tell patients in that case is that please note that you’re going to be monitored very closely – more than usual, and so I’ll be seeing you in clinic more often. And if there’s any signs of progression, I will take you off the study. But I also always have a back-up plan. So, I tell them this is the next drug I’m going to give you if you progress, so don’t worry, I’ve got a plan for you. So, that’s one thing.

The other thing that people get concerned about are experimental drugs – just the fact that they are experimental. And I have to remind them that all these standard therapies that we have for prostate cancer were all experimental at one point. And it was the courage of the other patients that went through clinical trials that helped bring it as standard of care. And then sometimes some people have issues with travel, and those are more logistical issues. And especially now with the COVID era, we have to think about that. And so, we’re also trying to find and use networks to see if there’s other trials that are more amenable for patients so they don’t have to travel far.

Katherine:                   

How can patients find out about clinical trials that may be right for them?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

Yeah. So, one way is using clinicaltrials.gov. And that’s a website that allows you to search for specific trials either by drug name or by disease type – so, for example, prostate cancer. So, that’s one resource. And the others are cancer societies like the American Cancer Society or ASCO or Prostate Cancer Foundation. They also have links to clinical trials that are exciting. 

Prostate Cancer: How to Know If Your Treatment Plan Is Working

Prostate Cancer: How to Know If Your Treatment Plan Is Working from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

How do you know if a prostate cancer treatment plan is effective? Dr. Sumit Subudhi, a Medical Oncologist, explains how a patient’s treatment response is monitored for its effectiveness.

Dr. Sumit Subudhi is a Medical Oncologist at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

See More From INSIST! Prostate Cancer

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Prostate Cancer Staging: What Patients Should Know

The Link Between Prostate Cancer and Inherited Mutations

Targeted Prostate Cancer Therapies vs. Chemotherapy: What’s the Difference?

 


Transcript:

Katherine:                   

How can you tell if treatment is working?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

So, I actually use three criteria to figure this out. One is the patient’s self, their symptoms. So, some patients’ symptoms are related to the urinary tract system, such as they may have frequent urination, or they can have pelvic pain in that area or blood in the urine or problems with ejaculation.

Other patients have pain because they have metastasis to the bone, and so the bone pain can be a symptom. And when a treatment is working, these things will actually start resolving. And so, you’ll see that these symptoms start disappearing without pain medications or other things. So, symptoms is No. 1.

No. 2 is in prostate cancer, unlike many other cancers, we actually have a serum test, or blood tests, that we can follow, which is the PSA. And usually when that’s going down, that’s reassuring.

The third is scans – radiographic scans, such as CAT scans and bone scans, help us monitor the disease. In an ideal world, all three will be going in the same direction. Meaning if the treatments working, the patient’s symptoms have improved, if they had symptoms. The PSA is going down and third, the scans show that things are improving. But the truth is we don’t live in an ideal world.

And to me, the patient’s symptoms always trumps. And I’ll give you an example. Early on in my career, I had a patient that was getting hormonal therapy, and their PSA was zero. And he started having right hip pain. He had a traditional scan – a CAT scan and bone scan – done which showed that everything was stable. And remember, the PSA was zero. And so, I told him, I looked at your history carefully, and you had a right hip repair 10 years ago. I have a feeling that that’s probably what’s causing it.

So, he went to go see his orthopedic surgeon. And he comes back, and he says, no, the orthopedic surgeon says it’s your fault. So, I did an MRI, and the patient and the surgeon were absolutely right. So, I got tricked, because I fell in love with the PSA. And ever since then, the patient’s symptoms trumps everything else. It’s my job to figure out and rule out that this is not prostate cancer. So, my point is don’t fall in love with the PSA, because even if it’s zero, that doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear.

Katherine:                   

How long do you monitor a patient before you make the decision that the current treatment not working, let’s move on to something else?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

Yeah, good question. So, for each type of treatment and for each patient, I personalize how often I will see them.

For example, if someone is having significant pain, then I’m more likely to see them more often in clinic to make sure the pain is under control, but also to monitor how their treatment is going. And that means I’ll also scan them or do radiographic scans with the CAT scan and bone scan more frequently. Now, someone that’s more asymptomatic, you’ll see the intervals are longer. So, it’s really personalized for each patient. And the type of treatment they’re receiving, as well. So, it depends if they’re getting chemotherapy versus hormonal therapy versus a PARP inhibitor. So, all these play a factor, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all.

Targeted Prostate Cancer Therapies vs. Chemotherapy: What’s the Difference?

Targeted Prostate Cancer Therapies vs. Chemotherapy: What’s the Difference? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

Targeted prostate cancer therapies and chemotherapy are both available options to treat patients with prostate cancer. Dr. Sumit Subudhi discusses the differences between these two forms of treatment, including their effectiveness and side effects.

Dr. Sumit Subudhi is a Medical Oncologist at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

See More From INSIST! Prostate Cancer

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Prostate Cancer: How to Know If Your Treatment Plan Is Working

Why Prostate Cancer Patients Should Consider Participating in a Clinical Trial

Promising Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research News

 


Transcript:

Katherine:                   

Let’s turn to targeted therapies. How exactly do they work?

Dr. Subudhi:      

Yeah. So, this is a form of personalized medicine. So, what you’re doing is you’re looking at the patient’s cancer, either their inheritable cause of genetic causes or the somatic. And then you’re saying, oh, wait, they have a genetic defect in a DNA machine. So, let’s use the PARP inhibitor, which also targets the DNA machinery.

And these are the cancer cells that are most likely to be susceptible to PARP inhibition. And actually, the cancer cells will die from it. Whereas if a patient has a normal DNA machinery, the PARP inhibitors will actually not have any effect on the cancer. 

They’re given, actually, orally twice a day. The two drugs are rucaparib and Olaparib that have been FDA approved for this indication.

Katherine:                   

How do these newer treatments differ from traditional chemotherapy?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

So, with chemotherapies, at least in prostate cancer, they’re given intravenously every three weeks. And the goal of the chemotherapies, they are actually designed to kill any actively dividing cell in the body.

And the problem is it’s not just cancer cells that are actively dividing in our body. For example, with the chemotherapy such as docetaxel or cabazitaxel, that’s used in prostate cancer – their brand names are Taxotere and Jevtana – these chemotherapies will also affect hair loss. Why? Because hair grows really fast. And in fact, I need a haircut every three to four weeks, which my wife has been helping me with.

So, the chemotherapies are targeting all actively dividing cells, and that’s why you also get nausea vomiting, because the cells of our GI tract are also affected by that. So, chemotherapies are not personalized. They’re there to kill actively dividing cells. Luckily prostate cancer divides a lot more quickly than any other cell in our body, and that’s why they’re susceptible to chemotherapy.

Katherine:                   

And as far as the targeted therapies, Dr. Subudhi, are there side effects with those?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

Yeah, there are. One of the most predominant side effect is actually anemia. And so, that’s when the red blood cells in our body are lower than usual. And so, that’s one of the major side effects for PARP inhibitors. But in addition, you can have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as other side effects with the PARP inhibitors.

The Link Between Prostate Cancer and Inherited Mutations

The Link Between Prostate Cancer and Inherited Mutations from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

How can inherited genetic mutations affect the course of your disease? Dr. Sumit Subudhi explains the link between inherited mutations and prostate cancer and how these mutations affect disease progression in patients with prostate cancer.

Dr. Sumit Subudhi is a Medical Oncologist at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

See More From INSIST! Prostate Cancer

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Prostate Cancer Testing: What Tests Should You Advocate For?

How Can You Access Personalized Prostate Cancer Treatment? Resource Guide

How to Become a Partner in Your Own Prostate Cancer Care

 


Transcript:

Katherine:                   

Dr. Subudhi, what is the link between inherited mutations and prostate cancer?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

Yeah, so in approximately 10% to 15% of patients with prostate cancer, they have an inheritable cause for their cancer. And so, this predisposes them to not just having prostate cancer, but potentially to other cancers, but also their family members.

In regards to the inheritable causes, the BRCA mutations – BRCA2 and BRCA1 – are very common. In fact, BRCA2 is more common than prostate cancer than BRCA1. In addition, there’s CHEK2 and ATM which are common inheritable mutations. And the other ones are the mismatch repair genes. Again, all these play an important role in repairing DNA. So, if you’re mutated in these genes, then your ability to repair DNA has been significantly diminished, and you’re more likely to gain more mutations.

Katherine:                   

How do these mutations affect disease progression?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

Yeah. So, what they can do is they can lead to mutations that make the cancer grow more. And there’s two ways to do it. You can have a mutation in what we call an oncogene, a gene that when it’s active, it’s going to just promote the cancer.

And then we have other genes called tumor suppressor genes. Their normal function is to prevent the cancer from growing. But if the tumor suppressor gene gets mutated so it’s no longer functional, then the cancer can then take off, because it’s no longer suppressed. So, those are how these genes can actually affect the prostate cancer.

If you have either an inheritable mutation in these genes or a somatic mutation, then there’s a chance that the PARP inhibitors could actually work for you. And the PARP inhibitors, they actually target cancers where there’s a defect in the DNA repair pathway.

Now, there’s one thing that I want to point out that a lot of people sort of are missing, and it’s not a subtle point. Not all inheritable mutations are made the same – or even somatic mutations. Meaning, what we’re learning is the PARP inhibitors seem to be more active with the “Braca,” or BRCA, mutations and the ATM mutations. Whereas, they’re less active with other types of DNA repair mutations. So, the point is not all mutations are made the same.

Prostate Cancer Testing: What Tests Should You Advocate For?

Prostate Cancer Testing: What Tests Should You Advocate For? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Genetic testing results can influence a prostate cancer patient’s treatment options and provide a more in-depth understanding into their disease. Dr. Sumit Subudhi reviews specific tests that prostate cancer patients should advocate for.

Dr. Sumit Subudhi is a Medical Oncologist at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

See More From INSIST! Prostate Cancer

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Prostate Cancer Staging: What Patients Should Know

The Link Between Prostate Cancer and Inherited Mutations

How Can You Access Personalized Prostate Cancer Treatment? Resource Guide

 


Transcript:

Katherine:                   

What is the role of genetic testing in prostate cancer?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

That’s a great question, because this is something that wasn’t really available when I was training and understanding prostate cancer. But over the last few years, this has actually hit the mainstream, and it’s very important. And I see it having three roles. The first role is whether or not you can receive a certain type of targeted therapy or systemic therapy known as PARP inhibitors. So, if your genetic test is positive for certain markers – that I think we’ll cover later – then it can help give you more treatment options. The second is that generate testing can give you also risk of other cancers besides prostate cancer. For example, if you have the BRCA mutation, you’re 15% to 20% more likely to get breast cancer in men.

The third is that because the genetic testing is looking for inheritable mutations in your genes, that means you can pass it along to your kids. And this could have a tremendous impact on the screening strategies your children want to use in the future.

Katherine:                   

Would you mind going into that a little bit?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

Yeah.

Katherine:                   

For instance, my ex-husband had early prostate cancer. My 22-year-old son is worried now about also getting prostate cancer. His grandfather had prostate cancer.

Dr. Subudhi:                 

Yeah, great question. So, it’s not just about prostate cancer. So, prostate cancer, genetically, is linked to other cancers, as well.

So, in your case, you’re turning by your son. But if you have daughters or any female members in the family, consideration needs to be given to breast and ovarian cancer. And for both men and women, we also have to think about melanoma and pancreatic cancer. So, it’s not just prostate cancer that we’re thinking about when you have these genetic risks. And that’s very important, because each of these different cancers can have different screening modalities.

Katherine:                   

Oh. Well, how is the testing administered then?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

The testing is actually a blood test, so very simple.

Katherine:                   

Have there been any major advances in testing?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

Yeah, so when we’re talking about the inheritable testing, that’s just a simple blood test. And the reason why it can be done simply through the blood is because every cell in your body has it. So, when they collect the blood, they can just take any cell from there and do genetic analysis. And if that gene is mutated or missing, it will be captured.

Now, there’s another type of testing where they test your tumor tissue itself – so, your cancer tissue – whether you got it by biopsy or surgically removed. And so, that’s a different type of testing. That’s looking for what we call somatic mutations. These are not inherited mutations. These are mutations that are specific for your prostate cancer. Again, in contrast, the inheritable mutations are in every cell in your body – not just your prostate cancer cells, but every cell in your body. And the somatic, it’s just in your prostate tissue itself.

And so, sometimes with prostate cancer, it’s difficult to get the tissue. And what’s happened more recently – and to answer your question – is that the advances have been in what we call liquid biopsies, where they are able to use your blood and get the DNA from the tumors and actually genetically test the cancers that way. And so, that’s where the future is going.

Katherine:                   

Oh, that’s amazing. Are there specific tests that patients should ask their doctor for following the diagnosis?

Dr. Subudhi:                 

Yeah. So, if inpatients with high risk or metastatic prostate cancer, they should definitely be considering tests to see if they have mutations in what we call the DNA damage repair pathway or homologous recombination DNA pathway. And I know they’re fancy terms. What these genes are, they’re genes that help the body repair their DNA, and DNA is very important. And so, when there’s defects in the DNA repair pathway, then mutations occur. And these mutations can actually help the cancer grow.

 Now what’s happening is that what they’re looking for in these genetic tests – whether it’s the inheritable test or the somatic mutation test that’s looking just within the tumor itself – they’re looking to see if there’s any DNA damage machinery that’s defective. And if it is, then you’re more likely to benefit from PARP inhibitors, which are oral drugs that specifically target the DNA repair pathway.