Uncontrolled activity of male hormones, called androgens, contributes to the development of prostate cancer. One of the primary ways doctors treat prostate cancer is by inhibiting the activity of androgens by either surgically removing the testicles or with drugs that decrease androgen levels or activity. Unfortunately, even though most patients have early success with anti-androgen treatments, many patients eventually develop metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer within two to three years. Castration-resistant prostate cancer is more difficult to treat and cure because scientists are unsure how it develops resistance to anti-androgen therapies.
“Undoubtedly, the foremost reason for transient effectiveness of the androgen deprivation therapy is a poor understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving progression to castration-resistant prostate cancer, which in turn has hampered development of new therapeutics,” explained Nupam P. Mahajan, PhD, associate member of the Chemical Biology and Molecular Medicine Program at Moffitt.
Dr. Stegall’s Comments: It is important to understand why cancer stops responding to some treatments after a period of time. When I look at cancer, I view the following as being the main drivers of disease progression and spread: glucose (sugar), copper, iron, acidic pH, hormones, and inflammation. If you ask your oncologist what drives cancer, he or she will probably say genetics or genetic mutations. With only a few exceptions, this is not true. To effectively treat cancer, I believe that we must target the main ways cancer grows and survives. Be on the lookout for an upcoming blog post which discusses this in more detail.