Stopping the Spread: New Prostate Cancer Therapy

For years surgery and radiation therapy have been the most common treatments for those diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer, but for many patients that doesn't work because the cancer has spread. Now an innovative therapy could give men new hope.

When this grandfather of 10 found out he had prostate cancer, he knew one thing.

"At that point I had a decision to make,” said Charles King who has prostate cancer. “What was I going to do about it?"

Charles King enrolled in a clinical trial that could revolutionize the way prostate cancer is treated.

"This is big stuff,” explains Dr. Mark K. Buyyounouski, MD, MS, of Fox Chase Cancer Center. “This is very big."

Doctor Mark Buyyounouski says traditional therapies don't address the risk of the cancer spreading throughout the body.

"We know like weeds in a garden if there are one or two cells that have escaped, they could come back years from now," says Dr. Buyyounouski.

That's where Prostatak comes in. The vaccine therapy is injected into the prostate, where it infects cancer cells, and together with radiation, stimulates the patient's own immune system to rid the body of cancer.

"It's an entirely different way to treat prostate cancer," says Dr. Buyyounouski.

Preliminary study results show Prostatak is safe and effective in killing prostate cancer, dropping tumor recurrence from 30-percent to less than 10-percent.

Charles hopes it works for him. In the meantime, he's not wasting any time.

"Play with those grandkids, they're our world and our life," says King.

Prostatak is designed for men in the early stages of prostate cancer. It's ideal for patients with intermediate or high risk prostate cancer who are considering radiation therapy.

Trials are going on right now. For more information about how to participate, call 215-728-5312.

Medical Breakthroughs
Research Summary

TOPIC: Stopping the Spread: New Prostate Cancer Therapy
REPORT: #3577

BACKGROUND: In the United States in 2012, an estimated 28,170 men died from prostate cancer and there were 241,740 new cases. (Source: Prostate cancer starts in the prostate. The prostate is a small structure that wraps around the urethra and makes up part of the male reproductive system. Prostate cancer is the most common cause of death in men over 75 years old. A common problem in almost all men is an enlarging prostate, called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It does not increase the risk of developing prostate cancer, but it raises PSA blood test results (a screening for men for prostate cancer). PSA testing is responsible for detecting the cancer before symptoms occur. (Source:

SYMPTOMS: Symptoms usually do not occur until prostate cancer is in a later stage. Symptoms relating to prostate cancer can also be caused by other prostate problems, including delayed or slowed start of urinary stream, dribbling or leaking of urine (usually after urinating), slow urinary stream, blood in the urine or semen, straining when urinating or not being able to empty out all of the urine, and bone pain or tenderness usually occurring in pelvic bones and lower back. If prostate cancer is suspected, then the doctor will have to do a biopsy to know for sure. (Source:

TREATMENT: Treatment options have many factors to consider. For early-stage prostate cancer doctors recommend surgery, called radical prostatectomy, or radiation therapy, including brachytherapy and proton therapy. If the patient is older, then the doctor might recommend just monitoring the cancer with PSA tests and biopsies. In cases where the cancer has spread, treatment can include surgery, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy to reduce testosterone levels. (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY: The problem with traditional treatment is the reoccurrence issue. It happens to about 30% of prostate cancer patients. A new therapy in its phase 3 trials, ProstAtak, might change the way prostate cancer is treated. The study is designed to compare two treatments, ProstAtak with external beam radiation therapy and Placebo with external beam radiation therapy. An estimated 700 people are involved in this study. In phase II trials, the rate of recurrence was reduced from 30% down to 10%. Based on an innovative technique called gene transfer technology, ProstAtak is used along with standard radiation therapy. The basic idea is to "jump-start" the body's own immune system so it can detect and kill remaining or recurring cancerous cells. If the outcome of the study is positive, then ProstAtak will most likely be approved for early stage prostate cancer treatment. (Source:


Fox Chase Cancer Center
(215) 728-5312

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