On-going Re-design of this Website and Posts

This website has been active for some years now and it is about time for an update of the site in general as well as indiviudual posts. The first change we have made is that all of the hundreds of posts have been separated into one of the following categories: 1) General Patient Information; 2) Diagnostics, Genetics and Imaging; 3) Treatment Information; and 4) Encouragement. Each of the four categories will eventually have sub-categories which will facilitate searching. The latter is yet to be done as I have to perform this manually. When  you now see a post, there is: 1)  a box linking the most recent posts as well as an archives area; 2) an area listing the four major categories above; 3) an index to other portions of the site such as lessons learned through my cancer, medical resources, scriptural medicines, my own story updates, and an area which describes how God can help you personally in this disease process; and, 4) an area wherein you can subscribe to receive the blogs automatically as they are posted as well as a comment area (which are greatly appreciated). The home page will also be streamlined. Thank you for your readership over the past years. I pledge to personally continue writing this site as God blesses me with health and ability and the technological help from CrazyTreeMedia, who have been my source of web technology since the site’s inception. I will soon be 77 years old and a cancer survivor since 1995. Thanks for your patience and support.

Zytiga Rejected in England as First Line Treatment for Advanced Prostate Cancer

The following is bad news for men in England with advanced prostate cancer. The rationale behind making this drug unavailable to men was cost. If anyone here in the US recommends we switch to the British system of health care, this should serve as a wakeup call against it. The therapy as described in the link below has been approved in the USA on the basis of two major clinical trials.

Janssen’s medication Zytiga (abiraterone) was recently rejected as a first-line treatment for newly diagnosed advanced prostate cancer on the National Health Service (NHS) in England following an initial draft recommendation from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The negative recommendation means Zytiga won’t be made routinely available for men with newly diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer. As it is recommended now, Zytiga will only be prescribed through the NHS for these men once standard hormone treatment or chemotherapy has failed.

In two recent Phase 3 trials – STAMPEDE and LATITUDE – first-line therapy with Zytiga along with steroids and hormone therapy was found to  reduce the chance of cancer recurrence and improve survival, compared to hormone therapy alone. Patients were all at high risk of their disease spreading, and treated earlier, before their disease become resistant to standard hormone therapy. After three years, 83 percent of patients taking Zytiga, prednisolone, and hormone therapy remained alive, compared to 76 percent in the control arm. Also, the combination reduced the risk of disease worsening or death by 71 percent.

LATITUDE  included men with prostate cancer whose cancer had already spread at the time of diagnosis but who had yet to receive hormone treatment. The LATITUDE trial compared patients treated with standard hormone therapy to those treated with hormone therapy plus Zytiga and the steroid prednisone. The combination reduced the risk of death by 38 percent.

“Two clinical trials published last year provided compelling evidence of the huge potential benefit of abiraterone [Zytiga] for these patients,” Sir Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said in a press release, expressing his disappointment.

NICE highlights its key reasons for not recommending the therapy because it couldn’t accurately estimate the drug’s cost-effectiveness based on the data submitted.  NICE concluded they could only recommend drugs that are clinically effective and show value for money compared to current treatment options. In this case, abiraterone has fallen short.  Janssen can now submit additional data to help NICE resolve these questions and review the revised data later this summer, before a final decision is made.

Following this draft recommendation, the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) also expressed disappointment that Zytiga will not be made available to these patients as a first-line treatment, at least for now. The ICR is now calling for urgent discussions about the data supporting the drug’s effectiveness earlier in treatment as well as the drug’s price.

A No-Nonsense Look at Prostate Cancer Surgery

I recently came across an excellent review on the pros and cons of prostate cancer surgery as published by the Prostate Cancer Research Institute (PCRI). I am linking the review. If you are contemplating surgery, please read it and discuss it with your surgeon. You might also want to verify the opinions expressed in this article with him or perhaps consider other therapeutic options if they apply. This post and its contents is for informational purposes only. Even though I was a satified surgery patient in 1995, and speak highly of my Johns Hopkins surgeon, I realize each man’s situation is different so read and apply it accordingly.