Cancer treatment can cause cancer
Prostate cancer treatments spur cancer to grow
2011 November 9
When men with advanced prostate cancer are treated with hormone therapy, the cancer usually stops growing for a year, maybe two. But then the disease often begins to grow again, and mainstream doctors have few if any options left to try to help.
So why did the hormone treatment work for a while and then stop? According to findings recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the explanation may be unexpectedly simple: the very drugs given to men to fight their prostate cancer actually spur some cancer cells to grow.
The new study, headed by Chawnshang Chang, PhD, director of the George Whipple Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and colleagues, suggests the androgen receptor, through which male hormones like testosterone work, turns out to be far more versatile than scientists realized. Specifically, a common form of hormone therapy for prostate cancer works by blocking the androgen receptor. And Dr. Chang’s team found that it was true that depriving the male body of testosterone this way can at times stop cancer in the short term by preventing some cells in the prostate from growing. But, unfortunately, they also discovered that blocking the receptor can actually cause a revving up of other prostate cell growth and can lead to a proliferation of cancer cells down the road.