Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials – A New Day for Patients

November 8, 2012

Today prostate cancer patients with advanced disease have three relative new treatments available that improve overall survival. Provenge, Zytiga and Xtandi have all been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the past two years. These treatments represent significant progress for patients who for years had only chemotherapy to rely upon following hormone therapy. But the good news does not stop here.
Thomas A. Farrington, at PHEN's 2012 Summit
There are an increasing number of clinical trials using these “FDA approved” treatments. Importantly, these clinical trials are not experimental and seeking to prove the effectiveness and safety for these treatments. Effectiveness and safety were determined for each as part of the FDA approval process. Instead many of these trials are studies to better understand the treatments’ level of effectiveness relative to parameters such as stages of disease, genetic factors, in combination with other treatments, etc.

In most instances men participating in these trials are able to receive treatment with these expensive drugs for no cost and no increased risk. Clinical trials using these new treatments represent a new day for prostate cancer patients, especially for those that cannot afford these treatments.

It is important for African American men, who are at a higher risk for needing treatment for advanced disease, to participate in these trials to help better understand how these treatments can impact on eliminating the prostate cancer epidemic that we now suffer. Also, in some cases these trials will remove the access barrier that some men face.

PHEN will continue to highlight and focus on important clinical trials to insure that the men most impacted by prostate cancer are knowledgeable and have the opportunity to participate in this exciting new day for patients.

Remember, knowledge is the best defense against prostate cancer.

Faith and the Father’s Day Rally Against Prostate Cancer

May 7, 2012

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the year 2000 and still I remember vividly that day and my doctor’s words: “you have prostate cancer.” The shock and fear of facing a disease that had taken the lives of my father and both grandfathers was a heavy psychological burden to bear. Working with many other men who have faced prostate cancer, this burden seems universal and managing the emotional stress becomes an urgent need for men and their families.

PHEN President, Thomas A. Farrington

Summoning the inner strength to lift this pressing psychological burden and make decisions about treatment was a major challenge for me, as it is for most men. I turned to my Christian faith through prayer to find the strength to face prostate cancer, and throughout my twelve years as a survivor my faith has been the bedrock in meeting my survivorship challenges.

PHEN’s Father’s Day Rally Against Prostate Cancer in partnership with institutions of faith connects men and families who are facing prostate cancer, managing survivorship issues, or have lost a loved one to this disease. Through the power of prayer and spiritual fellowship their isolation is removed and replaced with open and supportive relationships. The Rally is based on the importance of faith in healing, and this Father’s Day ceremony is proving highly effective in helping to remove many heavy burdens.

The commitment and support of the hundreds of churches that have joined the Father’s Day Rally since its launching in 2009 has transformed the Rally into a dynamic national movement that is part of the healing process for many thousands across our country. I sincerely thank the leadership of these churches and I salute those survivors who are working within their churches to help facilitate the Father’s Day Rally. These survivors are true faith disciples for their courage to stand up and speak about their personal experiences to outreach and help others. There are many pastors of our partnering churches who are themselves survivors and while these faith leaders are very impactful within their own churches, some are assuming the added responsibility of recruiting other churches to our efforts.

While I am excited with our progress, there is much left for us to accomplish through our joining hands in prayer and action. Prostate cancer is a devastating disease, especially among Black men. The need for healing is tremendous and I know that faith has a great role in reducing suffering and saving lives. The Father’s Day Rally Against Prostate Cancer puts this into action.

Information, Knowledge, and a Cure for Prostate Cancer in 2012

January 8, 2012

The pursuit of a “cure for cancer” is the objective of research efforts in many of the leading cancer research centers throughout the world today. However, how will we know when a cure for cancer has been found? Will cancer as a disease disappear completely because a “magic bullet” has been identified to eliminate all types of cancers? Will new treatments eliminate

deaths from certain types of cancers and be defined as cures? The answers to these and similar questions are important in shaping the public’s understanding about cures for cancer. However, based on what I understand about ongoing research efforts there will probably be multiple forms of cancer cures that will differ based on the type of cancer, the patient and the definition(s) of cure. 

What is the definition for a cure for prostate cancer, and do we have a cure entering 2012? 

There is no magic bullet cure today that I am aware of which will prevent a man from getting prostate cancer. There are promising research and study efforts underway to reduce a man’s risk for the disease which at some time in the future may approach a magic bullet cure for some. Also, there is an accelerating pace of new classes of prostate cancer treatments under development aimed at increasing survival and the quality of life for those men living with the disease; some have already been approved by the Federal Drug Administration,

If an accepted definition for a prostate cancer cure is survival after a diagnosis with minimal to no impact on a man’s quality of life then there are cures for the disease as we enter 2012. These cures may at times involve multiple combinations of treatments and therapies and differ from man to man. I consider my personal eleven year prostate cancer survival to be within this definition of cure. Conversely, I believe that the vast majority of prostate cancer deaths and sufferings today are due to a lack of information and knowledge about accessing the cures available in a timely manner. Information and knowledge about one’s risk level, early detection, treatment options, and managing survivorship issues are critically important to a cure for prostate cancer in 2012. For a man not to have this knowledge is to play Russian roulette with his prostate.

The journey for reaching a prostate cancer cure where there is no magic bullet available can be complex, but certainly navigable. As we enter 2012 PHEN continues to broaden its educational outreach to assist men and their families along this journey. We will augment our monthly live webcasts which began in January, 2011 with a monthly e-newsletter highlighting information about available treatments and clinical trials. Many of our sponsors and partners are at the forefront in providing new and innovative treatments, therapies and detection tools that will be part of the focus of our educational outreach efforts. 

Knowledge is the best defense against prostate cancer in 2012. PHEN and its partners are committed to reducing prostate cancer deaths and suffering by increasing the overall knowledge base about the disease and the approaches to cures and survivorship. Our information is aimed at men and their families as we emphasize the importance of wives, mothers, sisters and daughters becoming actively involved in the prostate health of the men in their lives. Prostate cancer is a disease that impacts the entire family and in many (perhaps most) cases family members are needed to support a man’s efforts to become knowledgeable and interface with his doctors. PHEN invites you to use our online resources available to you at your convenience, tune in to our monthly webcasts, and study the information presented in our e-newsletters to increase your knowledge. Join our efforts to help cure prostate cancer cases in 2012 with the health of your family as a primary goal.

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