A new clinical study published in January of 2015 shows that prostate cancer cells could be stopped in their tracks for up to a year by alternatively overwhelming and depriving them of testosterone.
Currently, doctors try to kill cancer cells in the prostate by ‘starving’ them of testosterone (referred to as ‘castrating therapy’), since it is believed that they feed off of this hormone. However, in most cases, this approach only holds cancer cells at bay up to a certain point, after which they rebound and testosterone deprivation no longer has an effect. The medical term for this is CRPC (castration-resistant prostate cancer).
A New Idea: The Study
Researchers of the 2015 study asked themselves what might happen to cancer cells if they overloaded them with testosterone instead; the results are very interesting!
In a preliminary study, 16 men with CRPC were treated with a shot of testosterone for 28 days as well as a pill for the first 14 of those days. Then after 3 cycles, they were also given the conventional testosterone-depleting therapy. The overall effect was rapid switches from extremely high to extremely low testosterone levels. The researchers called this approach Bipolar Androgen Therapy (BAT for short).
Out of the 16 men, all of them became responsive to conventional therapy after BAT. 7 of them showed decreased cancer cell count from BAT alone, and 4 men ended up being treated with BAT for over 1 year. However, in all cases, the new treatment eventually lost its effectiveness.
What does this mean for someone with prostate cancer?
The BAT method looks like it could be used to treat prostate cancer that’s resistant to conventional treatment methods. It may open up a second chance for men whose bodies aren’t responding to their doctor’s methods.
The next step for this new approach to testosterone involves organizing larger studies with more participants. With more information, the medical and scientific communities will be able to better integrate this new treatment into cancer-fighting methods.
For more information about prostate cancer, including signs and symptoms, watch this short video:
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