A Must-Read Cutting-Edge Review of Immunotherapy for Prostate Cancer

I just received an e mail from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) which consisted of a three-part review of immunotherapy as applied to prostate cancer. The review consists of three parts: a) Immunotherapy, a Vaccine for Prostate Cancer; b) Who’s Who in the Immune System; and c) Immunotherapy and Prostate Cancer. The review is so enlightening that I will focus only on part (a) here. The first part discusses how vaccines and checkpoint inhibitors work; when and how they are best administered; specific immune stimulators such as Provenge, PROSTVAC and GVAX; and, combining vaccines and checkpoint inhibitors. I urge the reader to take time and read these sections. There is so much useful information here. Carefully review and digest each section as it applies to your specific cancer issue. You can follow the link above or right here.

To Be Delivered From Pressure, Trust in Jesus, Not In Yourself

Jesus said, “The birds of the air do not sow or reap, yet God feeds them. Are not you worth more than they? “Matthew 6:26;
Photo; BJ Gabrielsen

The great apostle Paul wrote that he and his colleagues were under great pressure, “burdened excessively beyond our strength so that we despaired even of life; indeed we had the sentence of death within ourselves” (as in the case of many cancer patients), “in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

“Under great pressure.” Can we identify with that? We all know the feeling when it seems the weight of the world is upon us. We can’t imagine how we’ll ever get through. We may even reach the point of thinking we would rather die and be done with it than have to endure any longer.

“But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” Paul’s explanation can be ours too. Of course, we do not know the workings of God’s purposes in allowing suffering in our lives, pain that can even take us to the breaking point. However, we can always know we are to rely on Him and not ourselves while going through circumstances. That is the reason we can accept whatever circumstances we are in: God is with us.

Paul concludes (v.10) God “delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And he will continue to deliver us.” God is our hope and deliverer, not just now in this situation. He was there in the past, and He will continue to be.

If you are unsure of your personal relationship with God, you can know for certain. See the following link.

The above was an excerpt from the Haven Ministries daily devotional, “Anchor” from May 9th, 2017.

Game-Changer: Newly Diagnosed with Metastatic Cancer and Have Not Had Hormone Therapy? Ask for Abiraterone (Zytiga).

It isn’t often that information on a “game-changing” treatment is published on four cancer websites. But such is the case herein from the National Institutes of Health MedLinePlus, Prostate Cancer Foundation, the June 12 issue of Prostate Cancer News Today and Reuters Health News.

If you have just been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and your doctor wants to start you on hormone (androgen) deprivation therapy (ADT, such as Lupron), which shuts off the supply of testosterone and other male hormones, ask for abiraterone (Zytiga®) as well.  It could extend your life for years.

About 3% of the 161,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed annually are metastatic where the cancer has spread beyond the original tumor. These hormone-naive men (who are just starting ADT) are often treated with a combination of the chemotherapy drug docetaxel (taxotere®) and hormone therapy. According to two recent studies (LATITUDE and STAMPEDE) presented at the 2017 meeting of the American Societyof Clinical Oncology (ASCO), chemotherapy with its undesirable side effects may now be replaced by the FDA-approved anti-testosterone pill abiraterone acetate (Zytiga®) in addition to prednisone. The studies will shortly be published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The two studies found that abiraterone lowered patients’ risk of death by nearly 40 percent when added to standard androgen deprivation therapy and prednisone. It also appeared to more than double the average time it took for a man’s prostate cancer to progress, one of the studies reports, extending the average time of progression from 14.8 months to 33 months.  It also lowered the risk of the cancer getting worse by 53 percent. Researchers state that this may represent one of the biggest survival gains ever reported in a trial in adults with solid tumor and could change then standard clinical practice overnight. For further details, see the following link to the June 5th report from MedLinePlus published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Testosterone fuels prostate cancer growth, so doctors use androgen deprivation (hormonal) therapy (ADT) to prevent the testicles from producing the male hormone. However, ADT drugs do not prevent the adrenal glands and prostate cancer cells from continuing to produce small amounts of testosterone. Abiraterone, a pill taken once daily, blocks an enzyme that converts other hormones to testosterone, essentially halting production of testosterone throughout the body. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration previously approved abiraterone for patients with metastatic prostate cancer that didn’t respond to regular androgen deprivation hormonal therapy.

One of the researchers stated “what’s dramatic is how much better abiraterone works when it’s given earlier. I have never seen a treatment where you could, five years later, see no progression in some men. There are some extreme responders who get a very significant remission. It may be that abiraterone does not just stop cancer from proliferating, but it also stops, or significantly delays, cancer from mutating and becoming more resistant to treatment. The side effects of abiraterone are minimal, if you take your prednisone.”  (Low-dose prednisone is necessary with abiraterone to help the adrenal gland make sufficient amounts of cortisol.) Unfortunately, most insurance companies may not immediately realize that this is going to be the new standard of care. They may not want to pay for abiraterone, and that’s a problem, because the drug, Zytiga®, made by Janssen, is not cheap.  It costs $9,000 a month; however, a generic form of abiraterone is expected to come on the market within the next two years.


The Secret of Being an Overcomer (in spite of any physical issues).

One of my favorite and most applicable Bible passages is from 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh”, a physical problem (like we may have prostate cancer) which God chose not to alleviate at this point. After pleading with God three times to remove the thorn, God told Paul (and us) that “my grace is sufficient for you, for  (God’s) power is perfected in (our) weakness”; to which Paul replied “most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, insults, distresses, persecutions and difficulties (like prostate cancer) for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Paul learmed the secret of being an overcomer. Maintain God’s perspective on the ups and downs of life and access His power. Paul was firmly convinced that having the person of the Holy Spirit living in him meant that God’s power was available to him. (Note: when a person places their entire faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for forgiveness of their sins and the gift of eternal life, and submits their will to follow God’s direction, then the Holy Spirit comes to live within that person and a personal relationship with God and Jesus is established and empowered.)

Therefore, we too can learn to be at peace while the storms of life rage around us. The first step is to know and believe that the power of God is within us through the presence of His Spirit. We must then accept that God’s priority for us is our transformation into Christ’s image and not necessarily comfortable circumstances. Diligently seeking to maintain Jesus’ perspective on trials is also important. He said in John 16:33, “these things I have spoken to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” Until we settle such matters of faith, true contentment will evade us.

Having embraced these truths, we can learn to use the divine power of the risen Christ. The key lies in submitting our will to His. Then instead of reacting to life based on our own weaknesses and desires, we will switch to responding on the basis of God’s will and the fact that we belong to Christ. We will be able to consciously surrender ourselves to the Lord and His pattern for our life. Yielding control to the Holy Spirit allows God’s perfect will to be done and enables us to accept it. When we can honestly say “God whatever You chooses to send will be all right with me”, then we will experience the inner peace Jesus promised to us. (“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27).

Divine perspective, surrender and firm faith- these are the ingredients for the victorious, overcoming life.

The preceding was adaped from In Touch Ministries devotionals, April 17th, 2017, by Dr.Charles Stanley.


A Testimonial to Treating a Gene Involved in Metastatic Prostate Cancer

This linked article is an excellent personalized example of treating a man with metastatic prostate cancer and a mutated genetic defect in his BRCA2 gene. He was treated with the PARP inhibitor olaparib which is approved for ovarian cancer. The story itself needs little comment so I urge you to read the following link from the Prostate Cancer Foundation.