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Treating Prostate Cancer In Less Time With Advancements in Therapy
Oct 26, 2023

Treating Prostate Cancer In Less Time With Advancements in Therapy

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, with 1 in 8 men receiving a diagnosis in his lifetime. Fortunately, more treatment options are available today than ever, making it possible for many men to have favorable outcomes. 

Still, advancements continue to be made in prostate cancer research, improving upon existing treatments and bringing new ones to cancer patients across the country. Two in particular, one in radiation therapy and one in targeted therapy, are making it possible to reduce the overall time it takes to treat prostate cancer — and Willamette Valley Cancer Institute is proud to offer them both. 

Hypofractionated Radiation: Shorter-Course Therapy for Localized Prostate Cancer

Radiation therapy is an effective treatment option for men, regardless of the stage of prostate cancer. With pinpoint accuracy and precision, radiation beam technology can target prostate cancer tumors successfully while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.  

This is especially good news for men whose prostate cancer is localized. In past years, half of the time prostate cancer was detected, it had already spread. With that number now down 10 percent, most prostate cancer is caught earlier when it’s still contained to the prostate. When prostate cancer is localized, the patient can receive a much more accurate dose of the radiation, allowing for a more successful outcome. 

Up until recently, radiation therapy treatments required patients to visit the cancer center five days a week for 6-8 weeks. Now, that is not always the case. Radiation oncologists can deliver radiation therapy in a shorter amount of time thanks to a recent approach called hypofractionated radiation therapy, or hypofractionation. Rather than 6-8 weeks for treatment, this advanced technology only requires 4-5 weeks to achieve the same results.

To accomplish this, a higher dose of radiation is delivered at each treatment. How many treatments each patient receives varies based on factors, including the location of the tumor, its size, and the patient’s overall health. 

Receiving radiation treatment for prostate cancer feels very much like getting an X-ray. The patient lies on a table, and the machine, carefully and meticulously programmed with his individual treatment plan, delivers beams of radiation to the cancer. There’s no pain, and the patient is able to return to normal activities after each treatment session.

As with other types of cancer treatment, radiation therapy can cause certain side effects. Talk with a member of your cancer care team about ways to help cope with the side effects of radiation therapy. 

Pluvicto: A New Type of Targeted Therapy for Advanced Prostate Cancer

After decades of research, prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, levels are no longer the only biomarker that serves as an indicator of prostate cancer. It has been discovered that another protein, prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), is also linked to prostate cancer. 

Researchers have found that a high percentage of PSMA proteins reside on the surface of the prostate. With these proteins being so accessible, they can be detected with imaging rather than a blood test and targeted by delivering drugs. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Pluvicto™ (lutetium Lu 177 vipivotide tetraxetan), a new targeted therapy drug for the treatment of prostate cancer. Specifically, prostate-specific membrane antigen–positive, metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (PSMA-positive mCRPC) is a certain type of advanced prostate cancer. While other types of targeted therapy drugs are designed to slow the growth of cancer, Pluvicto is designed to destroy tumors. 

Pluvicto was used in clinical trials on actual prostate cancer patients before it was approved by the FDA. Data showed it to be a safe and effective treatment option for some men with advanced prostate cancer.  

Who is Eligible for PSMA Treatment? 

Because Pluvicto is designed to treat a specific type of advanced prostate cancer, you must meet some general requirements to be considered eligible for the treatment. You may be eligible if: 

  • You have metastatic or advanced prostate cancer that originated in the prostate gland and has spread outside the prostate
  • Your cancer progressed after treatment with taxane-based chemotherapy
  • You have metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer
  • Your cancer no longer responds to hormone therapy because of how far it has progressed

If you think you meet the above criteria, you may want to consider scheduling an appointment with a prostate cancer oncologist who can determine if treatment with Pluvicto is right for you based on your specific case. Studies are currently underway, testing how effective Pluvicto is for men with early-stage prostate cancer and its use in combination with immunotherapy treatments.

What to Expect When Receiving PSMA Treatment

Imaging tests are used to detect the presence of PSMA proteins on cancer cells. To increase the visibility of cancer cells on the image, a tracing agent called Pylarify® is used. 

Before starting treatment, eligible patients will be scheduled for an imaging exam and an injection of Pylarify. The tracing agent will find and attach to the PSMA protein on the surface of the cancer cell. This helps give Pluvicto a precise target. 

After receiving the tracing agent, treatment with Pluvicto will begin. Pluvicto™ is designed to release radiation to target PSMA expressed on prostate cancer cells, destroying them while sparing healthy surrounding tissue. Patients will receive the drug every six weeks in an infusion room over the course of 6-9 months. 

Compared to other types of prostate cancer treatment, there are fewer side effects for men to worry about with Pluvicto. This is because the targeted radiation delivered by the drug travels only a short distance outside the cancer cells. In instances where side effects are experienced, they typically include fatigue, loss of appetite, or dry mouth. Some men may experience a drop in red and white blood cell count. If this happens, your prostate cancer specialist may adjust your dosage. 

Faster Prostate Cancer Treatment Available to Patients in Willamette Valley

The prostate cancer doctors at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute offer the latest in prostate cancer treatment, allowing more men to have hope for a longer, fuller life. Whether it’s hypofractionated radiation therapy, PSMA therapy, or another type of treatment altogether, we are here to provide you with an individualized treatment plan that will meet your specific needs. 

If you are newly diagnosed with prostate cancer or would like a different approach for your advanced prostate cancer, make an appointment with one of our oncologists at a location convenient to you in Albany, Corvallis, Eugene, Florence, Lincoln City, or Newport, Oregon to learn more about our collaborative approach to prostate cancer care. 

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