PSA Screening Recommendations from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Lindesnes lighthouse overlooking the North Sea; the southern-most point in Norway.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is a highly respected organization. On July 16th 2012, a committee of experts from ASCO published a provisional clinical opinion regarding PSA screening in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. This information is also summarized in the July 24th, 2012 issue of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Bulletin. Briefly, ASCO experts concluded that for men with a life expectancy of 10 years or less,  “it is recommended that general screening for prostate cancer with total PSA be discouraged, because harms seem to outweigh potential benefits.” However, for men with life expectancies of greater than ten (10) years, “it is recommended that physicians discuss with their patients whether PSA testing for prostate cancer screening is appropriate for them. PSA testing may save lives but is associated with harms, including complications, from unnecessary biopsy, surgery, or radiation treatment.” Thus younger men may have meaningful benefits from PSA screening but this can be accompanied by a risk of harms. These aspects must be balanced in order to arrive at a plan of action if warranted.

Treating Low-Risk, Localized Prostate Cancer Using MRI-Guided Focal Laser Therapy.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), the largest of the institutes comprising the National Insitutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda and Frederick, Maryland is sponsoring a clinical trial for men who have slow-growing prostate cancer confined to a small portion of the prostate gland (low-volume disease). In this pilot study which is being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center, “men diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer and men with suspected prostate cancer will undergo advanced magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI) techniques developed at NCI to visualize the prostate and tumor tissue in high detail and guide a biopsy to that area. The men will then be treated at a later date using MRI-guided focal laser ablation therapy to only the area of the prostate that has cancer.” Guided by MRI, a laser fiber will be inserted into the tumor nodule and used to locally heat the tumor. MRI will be used to watch in real-time as the heat from the laser destroys the tumor while leaving the remaining prostate gland intact and surrounding nerves and muscles controlling urination and erections unharmed.  This study will assess the feasibility and safety of this therapy intended to treat only the area of the prostate where the tumor is located. For more information, see the article from the July 10th, 2012 issue of the NCI Cancer Bulletin.

New Developments in Prostate Cancer Therapeutic Agents.

The January 3rd, 2012 blog post lists prostate cancer drugs and therapeutics either currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration or under late stage clinical development. This listing is updated constantly as developments are disclosed.  The latest update was posted on July 10th, 2012. Such future updates will be noted on the website home page.