Whether on its own or in combination, Prednisone keeps men with prostate cancer alive

Globally, prostate cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer-related death. It affects millions of men. In most cases, it is very slow growing and the majority of men die of unrelated causes before the cancer itself becomes fatal. For this reason, many men used to elect not to treat prostate cancer. Obviously, once a surgeon begins cutting into the groin area, the risk of sexual dysfunction is high. However, now that men are living longer, the age calculation means more men are looking for effective treatment that maintains the quality of life. However, in a small number of cases, the cancer is aggressive and the treatment options usually come down to chemotherapy and castration. When the cancer is entirely localized, castration is usually effective. But a tiny percentage of cancers persist even after castration.

Prednisone plus Abitraterone gave much better results

For many years, doctors relied almost entirely on Prednisone to delay the tumor's development. This meant the chemotherapy could also be delayed and it was not necessary to begin the immediate use of opiate painkillers. This was, however, not a major victory for the medical profession. The cancer would inevitably develop and was always fatal. This is not to devalue the use of the corticosteroid. It played its part as best it could. Once this castration-resistant cancer gets started, it's unstoppable. However, there's now new hope in a combination of Prednisone and Abiraterone (Zytiga). The latest report of the team leading research into this combination shows the use of both drugs reduced the risk of tumor progression by half and produced a significant delay of death in a further 20% of cases. Taken overall, the survival rate has increased to 55%.

This study is encouraging because it involves more than one-thousand participants, making it easier to generalize the statistics to the whole population. Before taking the decision to administer chemotherapy and damage the quality of life, half the participants received the standard dosage of the corticosteroid. The other half received the combination. The basis of the comparison between the two groups was the length of time before it became necessary to administer the chemotherapy, beginning the use of opiate painkillers and the total length of survival. The average survival was three years with the combination as against only thirty months with Prednisone on its own. Although six months may not sound a big improvement, this is a major difference to the men involved. With the research team reporting the only side effect as increased tiredness, the combination seems to have a good safety record.

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