What are strategies for treating advanced prostate cancer symptoms? Expert Dr. Tanya Dorff reviews approaches to protect bones and options for managing sexual dysfunction symptoms.
That’s really promising. What about treating symptoms of the disease itself, like bone pain?
Bone metastases are the predominant pattern of spread, and so, what really drives the story for a lot of our prostate cancer patients during their journey with cancer has to do with bone complications – not always pain, but unfortunately, there can be pain pretty frequently.
So, we start by trying to protect the bones early on. We know that when we use our hormonal therapies, osteoporosis can develop, so we want to avoid that. I’ve had patients where their cancer was well-controlled, but they had an osteoporosis fracture that they were miserable from, so it starts at the beginning, at protecting the bones, checking a bone density scan and/or using a bone-supportive agent like zoledronic acid (Zometa) or denosumab (Xgeva), and then, in the metastatic setting, as the disease progresses, we intensify that use of bone-supportive agents.
We sometimes end up using radiation therapy, which is primarily external-beam traditional kind of radiation, but there is also the radiopharmaceutical Radium-223 (Xofigo), which delivers the radiation kind of more internally through the bloodstream to areas of the bone that are active from the prostate cancer, and sometimes we end up needing something even like surgery, but the bones are a major part of the story.
Yeah. What about sexual dysfunction? Are there approaches that can help?
So, this is generally an area that’s managed more by urology. There definitely are things that urologists do to help patients who have lost sexual function due to prostate cancer treatments. They can involve medicines, they can involve slightly more invasive things like a suppository or an intracavernosal injection. There are also more mechanical ways, like a pump device or a penile implant, but generally, anything beyond the first level, which is Viagra, will be handled more by a urologist than a medical oncologist.