According to a results recently presented at the 40th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the novel chemotherapy agent ixabepilone (BMS-247550) produces anti-cancer responses in patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the United States. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that is located between the bladder and rectum and is responsible for forming a component of semen. Prostate cancer is stimulated to grow by male hormones, particularly testosterone. Therefore, patients may receive treatment, referred to as hormone therapy, to reduce levels of male hormones available to cancer cells. This removes the growth stimulus produced by male hormones and causes the cancer to shrink. Unfortunately, patients ultimately stop responding to hormone therapy after being on treatment for a period of time and are referred to as having hormone-refractory or androgen independent prostate cancer. Patients have limited effective treatment options once they become hormone refractory, with Taxotere® being the only chemotherapy agent that has demonstrated an improvement in survival in hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Researchers continue to evaluate novel agents to improve outcomes for patients with this disease.

Researchers recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate a new agent, ixabepilone, which is still in early stages of clinical trials. This trial included 41 patients who had hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Nearly 40% of patients achieved an anti-cancer response as determined by prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. The average duration of time to treatment failure was 3 months and the average duration of progression-free survival was 6 months. The average duration of overall survival had not yet been reached at the time of publication of these results. The most common severe side effects were tingling/numbness of the hands or feet, low levels of white blood cells and infection.

The researchers concluded that ixabepilone provides anti-cancer activity in patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Future clinical trials are necessary to determine the clinical role of ixabepilone for the treatment of hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating ixabepilone or other novel therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) and www.cancerconsultants.com. Personalized clinical trial searches are also performed on behalf of patients by cancerconsultants.com.

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Reference: Hussain M, et al. Ixabepilone (BMS-247550), a novel microtubule-targeting agent, is active in hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Proceedings from the 40th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. May 2004. Abstract #4510.

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