According to a press release by Pharmion Corporation, the investigative agent satraplatin continues to demonstrate potential benefit for patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer who have stopped responding to prior treatment with chemotherapy, particularly among those who continue treatment with satraplatin for longer periods of time.

The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system. It produces some of the fluid that transports sperm during ejaculation. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in men. The outlook for men diagnosed with prostate cancer is good: overall survival rates for all stages of prostate cancer have improved dramatically over the past 20 years.

Current treatment options for prostate cancer include watchful waiting, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or hormonal therapy. Hormonal therapy is designed to block testosterone from stimulating the growth of hormone-dependent types of prostate cancer.

Some prostate cancers become resistant to hormonal therapy and require a different treatment approach; this condition is known as hormone refractory prostate cancer (HRPC). Because HRPC can be difficult to treat, new agents and treatment approaches continue to be evaluated. Patients with HRPC may be treated with chemotherapy; however, if these patients experience cancer progression following chemotherapy, they currently have no approved treatment options.

Satraplatin is an investigative agent categorized as a platinum analogue. It provides anticancer activity that is similar to that of some commonly used chemotherapy agents. Satraplatin, however, can be taken orally and used on an outpatient basis, which makes this agent particularly convenient.

The current Phase III trial (phase prior to FDA review), referred to as the SPARC trial, included 950 patients with HRPC whose cancer had progressed following prior chemotherapy. More than 200 medical sites in 15 countries participated. Patients were treated with satraplatin plus prednisone (steroid) or placebo (inactive substitute) plus prednisone and were directly compared. Updated results from the SPARC trial were presented at the 2007 ASCO Prostate Cancer Symposium.

• Patients treated with satraplatin had a significantly reduced risk of cancer progression compared with those who received placebo. However, the overall median reduction in time to disease progression was only 10 days.

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• Although the overall median reduction in time to disease progression was only 10 days, this was improved as patients remained on the drug for longer periods of time.

• At six months, 30% of patients treated with satraplatin had not progressed, compared with only 17% of patients who received placebo.

• At 12 months, 16% of patients treated with satraplatin had not progressed, compared with only 7% of patients who received placebo.

• The most common side effect of satraplatin was low levels of blood cells.

The researchers concluded that satraplatin improves progression-free survival among patients with HRPC whose disease has progressed following prior chemotherapy, particularly among those who remain on treatment for extended periods of time. Longer follow-up is necessary to determine if satraplatin may improve survival among this group of patients.

Reference: Pharmion. Satraplatin shown to significantly reduce risk of disease progression in advanced hormone-refractory prostate cancer patients. Available at: =. Accessed February 2007.

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