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Experimental drug trial effective in treating late-stage prostate cancer

April 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
News of billionaire businessman Warren Buffet being diagnosed with prostate cancer comes right on the heels of actor Ryan O'Neal getting the same diagnosis. The prognosis for both appears good since both were diagnosed in early stages, but it's a different story when the disease progresses. Now there's some hopeful news.

Once prostate cancer starts to spread, the current treatments aren't always successful. Now a new drug could prove to be a big breakthrough for men with late-stage prostate cancer, especially in cases where the disease has spread to the bone.

Experimental drug cabozantinib works by targeting two proteins linked to the growth and spread of prostate cancer. In a trial of 171 men with metastatic prostate cancer, 74 percent had their tumors shrink; 67 percent of patients with pain reported less pain. In 82 patients, bone metastases were partially or completely resolved.

Dr. Maha Hussain, a professor of internal medicine and urology at the University of Michigan, co-authored the drug study. She says its anti-cancer effects are very promising.

"It does appear to slow the cancer from growing, although it does not cure the cancer, obviously," said Maha. "The early signs that we have seen have been encouraging and dramatic."

Currently researchers are continuing to evaluate the drug not only for prostate cancer, but for patients with other cancers, including ovarian and breast cancers, that have spread to the bone.