Tag Archive for: prostate cancer patients

An Expert’s Review of Advanced Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research

An Expert’s Review of Advanced Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What’s the latest in advanced prostate cancer treatment and research? Expert Dr. Tomasz Beer shares recent updates, and discusses how developing therapies could impact the future of prostate cancer care.

Dr. Tomasz Beer is Deputy Director at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Learn more here: https://www.ohsu.edu/people/tomasz-m-beer-md-facp.

See More From Engage Prostate Cancer

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Transcript:

Katherine:

When it comes to prostate cancer research and emerging treatment options, what are you excited about specifically?

Dr. Beer:                     

Well, there is so much to talk about there. And I do want to say that the things that we’re excited about and that are promising, we want to present them in the proper light, meaning that they’re significant potential advances, but they’re not necessarily cures next year.

You know, we want to raise hopes and excitement at a proper level. So, I think right now, what we’re seeing is progress that is likely to yield drugs that will extend survival, will help us control the disease in a meaningful way. We’re not yet at a point where we can, for advanced prostate cancer, have a reasonable hope of cure in the near term. That doesn’t mean we’re not trying. We’re aiming high, absolutely.

But at the moment, the most exciting thing right in front of us, in my view, is lutetium 177-PSMA 617. That is a radioactive molecule attached to a binder that is specific to prostate-specific membrane antigen, PSMA, and essentially delivers this radioactive drug directly to prostate cancer cells by attaching to that target, the PSMA.

We recently completed and reported at ASCO and published in the New England Journal of Medicine the results of a Phase III trial, where we were able to show extension of life, extension of control of cancer, in a meaningful way, with this drug, and we’re eager to see the FDA’s review, and I think generally hopeful that the FDA will allow this drug on the market hopefully in the coming months. So, that’s a real tangible thing that is not just pie in the sky years away. I think it’s likely to be available sometime in less than a year, hopefully much less than a year. Speculating on those things is always a little risky, but –

Katherine:                  

Of course.

Dr. Beer:                     

– we all think that’s coming.

I think there are several other targeted drugs that may expand the portfolio of things that we can do in response to a mutational analysis. So, I mentioned microsatellite instability and DNA repair defects. There might be treatments for mutations in a pathway called AKT and others. And so, I think we’re going to see more very specific drugs that address segments of prostate cancer. And then a big area of activity that I’m very excited about is immunotherapy. And immunotherapy has been difficult in prostate cancer.

It has made more headway in melanoma and kidney cancer, and a number of other solid tumors, frankly, and we’re a little bit behind, and I think in part because natural prostate cancer doesn’t elicit quite as much of an immune response as some of the other tumor types; so, it’s not so easy.

But some of the newest technologies for synthetic antibodies are being designed that link the T cells from the immune system directly to prostate cancer cells and activate them, I think hold a lot of promise.

And ultimately, when it comes to cure, the immune system right now looks like the most promising strategy for actually eradicating cancer because once you activate the immune system, it can really do quite a job on cancer. Right now, for prostate cancer, that is still almost entirely in clinical trials and still for a minority of patients. So, this is not an answer for everybody, but once we get a hold of something that’s promising, I think the field’s going to work very hard to expand its utility and make it a reality for more and more patients.

 

Key Considerations When Making Prostate Cancer Treatment Decisions

Key Considerations When Making Prostate Cancer Treatment Decisions from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What considerations are vital when making prostate cancer treatment decisions? Expert Dr. Tomasz Beer shares important factors that impact advanced prostate cancer care.

Dr. Tomasz Beer is Deputy Director at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Learn more here: https://www.ohsu.edu/people/tomasz-m-beer-md-facp.

See More From Engage Prostate Cancer

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Transcript:

Katherine:          

What are the considerations when choosing treatment for advanced prostate cancer?

Dr. Beer:                     

Well, here, the considerations in advanced prostate cancer are first and foremost, what is the best treatment for this particular individual, right?

That’s what we want to do, and by the best treatment, I mean most effective with the fewest side effects, protecting their quality of life. But that’s an oversimplification. In reality, to arrive at what the best treatment is, we need to really understand quite a bit about the patient’s cancer. Sometimes it’s mutational status, as we discussed earlier, but also, the way it’s presenting, how aggressively it’s growing, is it involving the liver or lungs, or is it only in the bones, is it fast, is it slow.

And then the other thing that is extremely important is the patient’s health, other medical conditions. Some treatments are really more difficult to give when somebody has cardiovascular disease, or diabetes, or nerve damage, or other causes preexisting to the cancer treatment.

So, those kinds of things which we call comorbidities in the medical arena are really important in refining the risk-benefit ratio for each treatment. And finally, and critically, what prior treatments patients have received, that’s a major consideration. We obviously wouldn’t be using the same treatments again in many patients. There are exceptions to that, but for the most part, if a treatment’s failed once, it’s not likely to be of great benefit.

So, we integrate the cancer presentation, perhaps genomics in some situations, patient-specific health conditions, patient’s prior treatments, and then of course, patient’s values and personal priorities and what’s most important to them. And from all of that information, we take a look at the available portfolio and suggest one or two options, which we as physicians, based on our experience, expertise, and the knowledge of the literature, believe that fit most closely and are most likely to be successful.

Using Your Voice to Partner in Your Prostate Cancer Treatment Decisions

Using Your Voice to Partner in Your Prostate Cancer Treatment Decisions from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

How can prostate cancer patients work to become partners in their care? Expert Dr. Tomasz Beer discusses “shared decision-making” in prostate cancer care and offers his perspective about the patient role in treatment decisions.

Dr. Tomasz Beer is Deputy Director at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Learn more here: https://www.ohsu.edu/people/tomasz-m-beer-md-facp.

See More From Engage Prostate Cancer

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Transcript:

Katherine:

The term “shared decision” is being used lately when talking about patient care. What does this term mean for you?

Dr. Beer:                     

Well, you know, at some level in my view, at least in the United States, virtually all medical decisions are shared decisions. We have a culture of advising our patients about their options, perhaps recommending a course of action, if it’s clearly preferable in our judgment to other options, but really involving patients in those decisions and taking serious consideration of the patient’s personal preferences and values.

And oftentimes in cancer care, especially when we’re dealing with noncurative treatments, treatments that are designed to keep the cancer at bay, perhaps shrink it, prevent or reduce cancer-related symptoms, protect quality of life, we really need to understand each individual patient’s willingness to undergo treatments, take on treatment-related risks, and their personal priorities. Is it their goal to live as long as possible and accept more risks? Is it their goal to focus on the quality of life today and avoid risks to the extent possible and only take them on when they’re absolutely necessary?

These are the kinds of discussions that we have with patients every time we consider a treatment change. So, to me, shared decision-making is really what we do with every patient and almost every visit. In some cases, it’s particularly important because there are areas in medicine where there’s really equipoise, and we don’t have a very clear recommendation one way or another.

Prostate cancer screening is an example for that. We all would dearly love to believe that early detection of prostate cancer is helpful, but early detection of prostate cancer comes with its own harms, the risk of overdetection, overdiagnosis, overtreatment, all because we pick up not just the aggressive cancers but also very slow-moving cancers that are not life-threatening. And so, folks undergoing cancer screening really need to know upfront what they’re getting into and make a decision about their view of the balance between the risks and the benefits. That’s a classic example of shared decision-making.

Katherine:                  

What is the role of the patient in making treatment decisions?

Dr. Beer:                     

Well, I think that the role of the patient is absolutely critical. I mean, they’re the ones receiving the therapy, and there are many things that we look for from our patients. To me, the most important is a clear understanding of their options and the reality within which we operate, having a set of hopes that are forward-looking, hopeful, and optimistic but also grounded in reality, so that good decisions can be made based on reasonable expectations. No. 2, a clear and honest articulation of the priorities, and that can be difficult.

You know, sometimes it’s hard to balance priorities. We obviously want to live as long as possible with a good quality of life. But what if the choice is better quality of life with a shorter lifespan or a longer lifespan but more side effects? And that’s really hard to sort out for some folks. And in my experience as a physician in the trenches, I can also tell you that sometimes the goals of the patients and the goals of their loving spouses and families are a little different.

And trying to help us – as physicians, our primary responsibility is to address the patient’s goals, but we all know that what we really want for our patients is a consensus of all the people they love that are important to them so that everyone can be supportive and on the same team. Those differences can be really stressful.

So, another thing that I look for in my patients and try to help with is building a family and friend support network that’s aligned, that’s on the same team, really. And then really strong communication with the physician or the provider about how things are going, letting us know about side effects honestly, and many people do that, but some people are afraid to share side effects for fear that their treatment might be taken away. And that honest, straightforward communication is really important for the best decision-making. And then, you know, of course, knowledge about the treatments and understanding of what we’re talking about is helpful, but actually, to me, it’s not the most important thing.

Having read the detailed papers on docetaxel chemotherapy while helpful, is not as important as having a really clear understanding of one’s values and priorities and a candid assessment of one’s quality of life and the ability to share that with a physician. I can cover the technical medical stuff, but what I can’t do is guess what’s important to my patients.  

 

Could Genetic Mutations Impact Your Prostate Cancer Treatment Options?

Could Genetic Mutations Impact Your Prostate Cancer Treatment Options? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Can prostate cancer treatment options be impacted by a patient’s genetic mutations? Expert Dr. Tomasz Beer defines precision oncology and explains how DNA repair and mutations can affect treatment options.

Dr. Tomasz Beer is Deputy Director at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Learn more here: https://www.ohsu.edu/people/tomasz-m-beer-md-facp.

See More From INSIST! Prostate Cancer

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Transcript:

Katherine:

Are there genetic mutations that affect the choices for prostate cancer treatment?

Dr. Beer:                     

Increasingly so. So, this is an exciting era in terms of those kinds of approaches. You may have heard the term “precision oncology” or “personalized oncology.” The ideas behind precision oncology is that each individual patient’s tumor is analyzed in detail for their biologic differences, and for the most part, those are mutations; although, it can be other. And that treatments may be available that work particularly well for patients whose cancers have a particular mutation. And so, today, there are a couple of categories of treatments that are FDA-approved and that can be used in prostate cancer treatment if the right mutations are present.

And one of those is a class of drugs called PARP inhibitors and those are indicated in patients with advanced prostate cancer who received some of our most commonly used routine treatments and who harbor mutations in a series of genes that are responsible for DNA repair. BRCA-2 or BRCA-2 is the most common of those, and that may be a gene that is familiar to people because it’s also a significant gene in terms of conferring risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

So, that’s the same gene we’ve been thinking about for breast cancer is also important in prostate cancer. There are other DNA repair genes as well that may sensitize a cancer to PARP inhibitors. Another area is something called microsatellite instability, which is a measure of how mutation prone a cancer is.

And cancers that acquire a large number of mutations are more likely to respond to immune therapies. And one might ask why that is, and it’s an interesting question. We believe it’s because, as a large number of mutations accumulate, we see more and more abnormal proteins that are made from those mutated genes, and those abnormal proteins, some of them are different enough from our native proteins, to cause the immune system to recognize them. And when we have an immune system that actually recognizes our cancer as foreign, we’re often able to amplify that immune signal and turn it into a potent anticancer weapon.

So, those are the two categories of mutations that we use in the clinic today, DNA repair and this microsatellite instability, but others are coming as we develop more targeted, specific agents designed for people with specific cancers who have specific mutations.

Katherine:                  

Dr. Beer, why should prostate cancer patients ask their doctor about genetic testing?

Dr. Beer:                     

Well, there are a couple main reasons for that. One is, of course, to examine their cancer and determine if they’re eligible for one of these targeted therapies. If we find those mutations, those patients have an extra treatment available to them. They can still be treated with all the hormonal therapies, chemotherapy, radiation-based treatments, but in addition to those, they have an additional targeted option. And so, that’s a real advantage for those patients who harbor those mutations. So, that’s really reason number one reason, number two is to potentially protect their families.

So, if a germline mutation is identified, that mutation can be passed on to kids. It may also be in other family members, brothers and sisters, and potentially be passed onto their kids. Important to understand that these mutations, as I alluded to earlier, are not just prostate cancer mutations. They can be passed through the mother. They can predispose folks to bre  ast cancer. So, a germline mutation may be something the family would benefit from knowing about. It’s a complicated area, learning about inherited cancer mutation in the family, could be very stressful and frightening.

So, I wouldn’t say this lightly. I think it needs to be done within the context of genetic counseling and good advice about how to communicate things like that and what to do with them. We want to be able to help people reduce their risk of cancer without taking an emotional toll on multiple members of the family.

So, it’s important, and it’s also important to do it thoughtfully and carefully.  

 

                  

 

What Do Prostate Cancer Patients Need to Know About Genetic Testing?

What Do Prostate Cancer Patients Need to Know About Genetic Testing? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

 What should men with prostate cancer know about genetic testing? Expert Dr. Tomasz Beer explains inherited mutations versus cancer-specific mutations and discusses the roles they can play in the development of prostate cancer.

Dr. Tomasz Beer is Deputy Director at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Learn more here: https://www.ohsu.edu/people/tomasz-m-beer-md-facp.

See More From INSIST! Prostate Cancer

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


Transcript:

Katherine:

Excellent. Let’s talk a bit about genetic testing and the role it plays in prostate cancer. I’d like to start by defining a few terms that are often confusing for patients. First of all, what is a somatic mutation?

Dr. Beer:                     

Well, so let’s first start with what is a mutation. So, we all have DNA that is the code of life in every cell in our body in the nucleus of the cell, and that is where all of the encoding for all the genes that then identify the proteins that make up our cells in our body exist. A mutation is a change in the sequence of that gene of that DNA, a missing letter, or a letter that’s been replaced by another letter, that can lead to a faulty protein being made. Sometimes, a mutation can cause a protein to be activated inappropriately.

Otherwise, we can see situations where the protein is silenced and inactive when it’s needed. So, those are mutations. Now, somatic mutations occur in a cancer. The person does not carry those mutations in their genome. They’re not passed along to their children or inherited from their parents. They happen in the cancer itself, and that’s the nature of cancer. Many cancers have a propensity to accumulate mutations, and so, a somatic mutation represents a cancer-specific mutation.

Katherine:                  

What then is the difference between somatic and a germline mutation?

Dr. Beer:                     

Yeah. So, germline is an inherited mutation. That is a mutation that is in the genetic code that that individual is born with, almost always inherited from their parents.

And I say almost always because in rare circumstances, a new mutation emerges in the fetus and becomes a germline mutation, but almost always this is a mutation that’s inherited.

And an important thing to understand about those is that because it’s in the germline, in the parent DNA, that mutation is present in every cell in the body of that human being, including the eggs and sperm, and that’s how it’s then transmitted to the next generation. Those germline mutations, they predispose people to cancer, can turn out to be deleterious and can lead to the development of cancer, typically when an additional mutation develops, and the two together team up to begin the process of cancer development.

How Can Prostate Cancer Patients and Providers Help Ensure Quality Care?

How Can Prostate Cancer Patients and Providers Help Ensure Quality Care? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

How can prostate cancer patients and providers help ensure quality care? Host Dr. Nicole Rochester asks Dr. Petros Grivas to share insights about available patient resources and ways that providers can help extend improved prostate cancer diagnostics and treatments to patients for better care.

See More From Best Prostate Cancer Care No Matter Where You Live


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How Can I Get the Best Prostate Cancer Care No Matter Where I Live?


Transcript:

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

So, Dr. Grivas, how can we ensure that a patient’s geographic location doesn’t dictate the quality of care that they receive? 

Dr. Grivas: 

A very important question for sure, and I think as you point it out, we have touched upon this before, but I think it is definitely much more to be said and done. More importantly, I think the location has to do with multiple differences in social constructs, right? The location of the distance from a cancer center with expertise is one thing at the time to get to the cancer center is related to that, and also the social support that the patient may have, if for example, a particular treatment, for example, a clinical trial, the requires a weekly visit to the cancer center, is that the feasible thing for the patient who lives miles and miles away in the rural areas of Oklahoma or somewhere else. Can we design clinical trials that are more friendly to these scenarios that require less frequent visits. Can we provide, if possible, funding for housing closer to the cancer center, and there are examples of cancer centers doing that. They provide temporary housing for the patient to be able to be close to the cancer center, so they don’t even worry about going back and forth across the state lines sometimes. 

The other thing, of course, is insurance coverage, and again, this can have some relation to location, and it’s something we have to think about, how can we help our patients who have significant co-pays because of the recommended insurance to that location being supported by foundation or all other funds that the cancer center or the state, or again, other foundations, we have. The other issues about diagnostics and treatments, there has been some interesting discussion about particularly prostate cancer, about access to what we call next generation sequencing, which is a diagnostic test aiming to profile or fingerprint the cancer DNA to look for particular mutations that the cancer may have that may lead to a particular treatment options. 

 If, for example, mutation A is present, can we use a drug X that might be relevant in that context of a mutation and a recent data that was presented at ASCO 2021 showed that if you look at those mutations, they’re not very different between, for example, white and Black patients, there are similar types and frequencies of mutations. What is different is access to the test and, of course, access to the therapy of the test. So, I think we have to do a better job bringing ourselves to the community, extending our opportunities to the patient to get connected with the healthcare system, and they’ll build bridges to bring the patient and closer to the cancer center offering those tests. Work with patient navigation to help patients understand the significant value of the follow-up, but also provide them with a way that there’s equitable access to diagnostics and treatments. 

What Are Some Practical Solutions to Prostate Cancer Care Barriers?

What Are Some Practical Solutions to Prostate Cancer Care Barriers? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Are there practical solutions to removing prostate cancer care barriers? Host Dr. Nicole Rochester, Dr. Yaw Nyame, and Dr. Petros Grivas provide insight on how solutions to barriers can be approached and share some support resources for improved patient outcomes.

See More From Best Prostate Cancer Care No Matter Where You Live


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What Barriers Do Prostate Cancer Patients Face When Seeking Care? 


Transcript:

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

Let’s shift to solutions and what are some of the solutions that you all recommend for some of these barriers, as physicians, a lot of that is going to be out of your purview, but I’d love for each of you to suggest any solutions for our patients and care who may be facing some of these barriers, so this time we’ll start with you, Dr. Nyame. 

Dr. Nyame: 

This is an area where I think we need to do better in collecting information to understand where the need is, and so I think there is a very much a need for translational health services or patient-centered research, where we do the simple thing, if I was going to open up a lemonade stand in the middle of Seattle, I’d probably ask a few people what their needs are around lemonade before I open the stand, and I think in medicine, we often offer our services and solutions without having had that simple conversation of What are the needs? I think in addition to that, we have to understand that equitable care might mean offering additional services for certain populations, so for us at our cancer center, for instance, we’ve recently instituted a patient navigator program, something that’s been around for a long time, and other sites but it’s allowing us to do that, go through that exercise of providing some equitable care by helping people coordinate appointments, find their way to financial resources that might support them, and just to be there as a support in the very difficult time of having a new cancer diagnosis, so I think that’s a well-proven and well-established method for helping people get access to care. 

The other thing I’ll add is that we make decisions, I think as humans, we make decisions through community, and sometimes that’s our partner, sometimes that somebody at the gym, sometimes that’s a co-worker, and there are a lot of really fantastic patient advocacy networks that exist that can help people find this new community, and I think cancer patients share a very unique bond and in a very unique way to communicate with one another because they’re living through this particular diagnosis, and so for in the case of prostate cancer, especially prostate cancer in Black men, you have the Prostate Health Education Network, you have Zero Cancer, you have Us TOO, you have the Prostate Cancer Foundation, probably leaving some advocacy groups off and I’m probably going to get in trouble, but I think that there’s that opportunity to reach out to others and just learn…what did you go through, what worked for you? How can I meet my goals of care through just conversation with other patients and survivors, and I’ll try to leave something for Dr. Grivas to the conversation because clearly I could go on and on. 

Nicole Rochester: 

Dr. Grivas? 

Dr. Grivas: 

I’ll tell you that I’m learning every day from Dr. Nyame, his fantastic work in this important topic, and I think he covered the answer so well. If I can just add a few more things just to expand on this of sorts, and these are things that already he’s doing in his programmatic development in our institution as well. I think one of the important things we have to acknowledge all of us is the issue of systemic racism and implicit bias that I think you referred to Dr. Rochester. I think the more we talk about, the more transparent we are with it, the better because we can think about what are unconscious or subconscious thoughts that we may have, you know, “This patient doesn’t care about themselves. Why should we go the extra mile to help them?” We should go the extra mile to help them, because this patient may have less inside of the situation, and they need more resources and as a healthcare system, we should try to earn that patient, right? We should not let that patient go, because every patient matters, right? And I think every life matters. I think that’s important. I think overall a systemic issue to discuss. The other thing is getting our sense of the community, and I think the examples of studies we have done in the clinic and other areas that we try to utilize the wisdom and the help of local leaders in those communities for example, underserved populations go to local churches or barber shops or gyms as Dr. Nyame mentioned and collaborate, work with the local leaders and see how we can have a dialogue with the patients there? How can we establish this trust that may be missing, how we can convey that health is important, and prevention is important, and treatment is important, how can we help with financial constraints, right? How can we get patients to the cancer center without them having to worry about how to get there, how can we reach out and have screening in the present county screening in the community, if it’s indicated then access to care telemedicine, and that brings an issue, do the patients have equipment for telemedicine, a computer, we take it for granted, but it may not be. So given those resources, organizing some local centers with this Men’s Health Day, just to get people in a room and educate them, but also learning from them what are the barriers to take it into account, not talk down to them, but learning with them and from them. 

The other thing is research and that will have to do a better job to include an offer in an equitable manor clinical trials to our patients including patients from different races and we are doing, I think, overall, okay, but we are not doing enough, we have to do better in order to provide this opportunities to our patients and the role of patient navigators is great. We can set examples, and we have patients who feel much more comfortable when they have a patient navigator. Sometimes if it happens to be in the same race with a patient then the patient feels more comfortable. They have someone that they can trust or it will be easier to talk to, and I think we should definitely improve and work harder to provide access to research inequitable manor to our patients. The last point I would say is, patient co-pay assistance programs and foundations, I think we can definitely include more resources to our patients, philanthropy, foundation support and state programs in order to give those patients the resource they need again to achieve this holy grail, which is equitable health care. 

What Barriers Do Prostate Cancer Patients Face When Seeking Care?

What Barriers Do Prostate Cancer Patients Face When Seeking Care? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What barriers do prostate cancer patients face in gaining access to care? Host Dr. Nicole Rochester and Dr. Yaw Nyame and Dr. Petros Grivas share their perspectives on factors that impact access to care and ways some barriers can be removed to improve prostate cancer care.

See More From Best Prostate Cancer Care No Matter Where You Live


Related Resources:

How Can I Get the Best Prostate Cancer Care No Matter Where I Live?


Transcript:

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

Drs. Nyame and Grivas, we know that location, socioeconomic status, insurance, financial hardships, lack of urologists in rural areas, geographic distance services and access to transportation all play an important role in the outcomes for patients and families facing a prostate cancer diagnosis. So, I want to start with our first question, and we’ll start with you, Dr. Grivas, what are some of the barriers, both prostate cancer patients and their care partners face when seeking care? 

Dr. Grivas:

The number of those factors have to do with the location of the patient as you mentioned, patients regardless of race, if they live in a rural community, then they have less communication or contact with a medical care system, and that’s in all reality there’s data suggesting that a cruelty to states this access to care issue is becoming more and more noticeable, and the distance involved in some ways to get a medical facility, let alone a specialized medical facility, specialized in-person culture. It can be a big problem. The other issue that we have seen many times, again, in some communities more than others, is a healthcare literacy and the preventive mindset as I call it, and that again, can transpire across races, but maybe even more intense in some of the populations. And when I talk about health literacy and preventive mindset, it’s about the relationship, an individual of the healthcare system, and sometimes the distrust, right, that may take place and also the, I would say comfort that the patient has to enter and access a medical care system that they can allow the providers to take care of them, and these are real, I would say, examples that we have seen based on having this concern of letting sales be taken care of in a medical system, competing problems and barriers include financial contraction, that’s a big one.  

Insurance coverage. We know that patients who…I would say social determinants of health may have not very good coverage, and this may be restricting award medical facilities that they can access, and also the cost of care, co-pays, for example, when diagnostic tests or acute interventions for orderly available agents can be a big carrier and no compliance can be diminished with co-pay. Of course, you mentioned many other factors, transportation issues, finding coverage of work, getting day off work can be a problem for some patients, and also the cost of transportation or lodging or parking sometimes can be a problem or even the anxiety to go to a big city and deal with a traffic, of course. So there are many factors, of course, but I think we have to have a systematic approach how to catalog them and address them in a comprehensive way, and I think there are some improvements and we can talk about them today, for example, telemedicine and others, but I think the list is long, and we have to keep an open mind and engaged patient advocates in cataloging those barriers. Maybe Dr. Nyame can comment further in that regard. 

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

You covered a lot of ground, and I appreciate that. Dr. Nyame, I’d love for you to either add to that list or maybe expand based on your perspectives. 

Dr. Nyame: 

Dr. Grivas didn’t leave me with much to cover, which is great. I think what you hear, in his answer to that question is that this is really a social issue, and I think when we talk about inequities in health, we have to recognize that race in this country, and many places around the world really reflects a social construct, and so the things that really predict how people are going to be able to utilize our services and how well they’re going to do reflect that greater social context, and so to me…you have to meet the patient where they are. And the strength of the relationships that you can build between the healthcare system and the communities that are at risk, especially the ones that have the highest disproportionate risk of bad outcomes or not being able to utilize services is important. And so the barriers include all the things we talked about, but a lot of them that we’ve talked about have been very much healthcare-facing, so we talk about transportation, what we mean that in the source of transportation to our facilities or we talk about money, but we talk about money and the ability to pay for our services, we also miss the other ways in which those social barriers and factors impact the ability to prioritize one’s health. 

Dr. Nyame: 

And so that is a really big problem. And something that we also need to put in the context of this conversation. I think when we take the covers off and we really see what our patients’ lives are like, sometimes we recognize that it’s not just about their ability to utilize the services that we provide, but that there are bigger issues at hand that also need addressing. Those aren’t in Dr. Grivas and I’s domain, but I think we have to understand those things to meet our patients where they are. 

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

Absolutely, I really appreciate that both of you have really focused on those social determinants of health. I appreciate you mentioning racism, and the fact that the patients being able to prioritize their health, I think historically in medicine, we have blamed our patients for not taking care of themselves, so to speak, without a full appreciation of all of these barriers that both of you have just identified, so I really appreciate that. 

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 Banwell:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Top Tips and Advice for Prostate Cancer Patients and Caregivers Navigating Treatment

Top Tips and Advice for Prostate Cancer Patients and Caregivers Navigating Treatment from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

What should prostate cancer patients and caregivers know about prostate cancer treatment? Dr. Leanne Burnham shares advice for patients with concerns about treatment side effects, information about active surveillance, and some specific advice for Black men with prostate cancer.

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Transcript:

Dr. Leanne Burnham

Yes, so it is a couples’ disease for sure, and you want to make sure to do a little bit of your own research. Make sure that your doctor knows how this disease affects Black men differently, because what I see a lot of time, even in my own family, my husband’s family members that get prostate cancer and they come to me, a lot of times, their doctor will recommend active surveillance. And it may not be appropriate for African American men if you look at the research and you look at the studies. And so, it may benefit you to just ask your doctor, “Do you treat a lot of Black patients, or do you see any difference in their survival rates versus your other patients?” And really consider that when you’re thinking about whether to do active surveillance or not. Once it gets time for treatments, one thing when I — because I talk to a lot of men and support groups, and men are scared, they don’t want to lose their urinary function, they don’t want to lose their sexual function. And so, they’re nervous about certain diseases and in terms of surgeries and radical prostatectomy, there are nerve-sparing surgeries now to really protect that function afterwards, and there are exercises that can be done afterwards to also help improve, and so ask the nurses in your setting, “What are some of those exercises that can be done?” But one thing to keep in mind is every treatment comes with its sort of risk, right?

So, no matter whether you choose radiation or surgery, there’s always a risk that you may lose some of that function, what I tell men, and not to sound not sensitive to the matter, but a lot of men, they’ll say, you know, “Oh, if I get this treatment and what if I can’t have sex anymore?” You’re not going to have sex when you’re buried 6 feet underground either. And so, you want to be able to get those treatments, the ones that you and your physician have a shared decision in and in deciding what’s best as a couple. But you don’t want to be naive if you’re at the doctor and you have a really elevated PSA and you have a Gleason score of 8, and your doctor is telling you, “We really need to treat this,” you don’t want to shy away from that, because you’re scared of the side of the side effects in that setting. You can look for where the best surgery center is if they have the nerve-sparing surgery, as I said, and explore your options that way. But don’t put it off so long, because you’re worried about the side effects. And if you don’t get treatment and your doctor wants you to, as time goes on, you’ll lose the urinary function and the sexual function anyways.

So yeah, it’s not something that you want to put off because you’re scared about the side effects. And a lot of men do have side effects temporarily, and then they regain their function, and I really encourage to join support groups virtually now because of how the role is set up. But just talk to some other men that have had some of these procedures and see how they’re doing. And I personally haven’t met a man that felt like, “Oh, I have been cured from prostate cancer, and now I have the side effects, and I wish I wouldn’t have had the procedure,” I haven’t met one. And I know in those who have side effects and they had surgeries and 10, 15 years ago, and they have side effects, I’m not going to act like that doesn’t happen. But none of them have ever expressed to me that they wish they could go back in time and not do that, because, at the end of the day, they’re grateful that they are still here with their loved ones.