Dr Joe O'Sullivan on Molecular Therapies in Prostate Cancer

For the first time, molecular therapies, such as radium-223, provide a survival-prolonging agent for men with advanced prostate cancer affecting the bone, explained Joe O'Sullivan, MD, FRCR, clinical professor, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen's University Belfast.

For the first time, molecular therapies, such as radium-223, provide a survival-prolonging agent for men with advanced prostate cancer affecting the bone, explained Joe O'Sullivan, MD, FRCR, clinical professor, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen's University Belfast.

Transcript (slightly modified)

How have molecular therapies transformed prostate cancer care in the last few years?

Well in the last few years, especially with the advent of radium-223, which is a molecularly targeted radiotherapy for bone metastases, we’ve seen the advent of improved survival for the first time with this type of therapy approach. And before that, therapies like bisphosphonates and denosumab helped with reducing fracture rates but didn’t really do anything for survival. So, for the first time we have a survival-prolonging agent and modality, which is molecular radiotherapy, which can help prolong the lives of men with advanced prostate cancer affecting the bone.

How have these therapies improved outcomes and/or quality of care for patients with prostate cancer?

Well the big change, especially with radium-223, has been prolonged survival, with an average of 3.5 to 4 months improved survival. But, very importantly, a very long delay to symptomatic progression especially fractures and spinal cord compression. For patients with advanced castration-resistant prostate cancer, it’s a real concern, both in regard to pain in their bones, but also potential neurological deficit caused by spinal cord compression; it’s 1 of the most devastating things that can happen. So, we now have therapy that can help prolong the time that patients remain well.