2011 Annual Report: New Drugs Offer Survival Benefit for Men with Metastatic Prostate Cancer


Memorial Sloan Kettering played a leadership role in 2011 successes in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. These treatments are offering men and their physicians new weapons against the disease.

Memorial Sloan Kettering researchers led an international study of abiraterone acetate (Zytiga®), and in April 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration approved this new drug in combination with the drug prednisone to treat men with a form of the disease called metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. Abiraterone blocks the production of male sex hormones (such as testosterone), which fuel the growth of these tumors.

A Memorial Sloan Kettering investigator led the development of the phase I through phase III trials of an experimental drug called MDV 3100. The drug, which has since been named enzalutamide, was largely developed by a Memorial Sloan Kettering researcher. The phase III trial was halted when enzalutamide showed a significant survival benefit, and patients on the placebo arm of the trial were offered the drug. Enzalutamide is currently under review by the FDA for a full approval while studies in men with earlier stages of the disease are ongoing.

Finally, a retrospective case control study led by Memorial Sloan Kettering researchers showed that a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test taken at age 60 can predict the likelihood that a man will die from prostate cancer over the next 25 years. The findings suggest 90 percent of deaths from prostate cancer occur in men with PSA levels in the top quartile, and that men with PSA below median (i.e., half of all men) may not benefit from subsequent PSA testing. A second report showed that a PSA test taken for the first time between the ages of 44 and 50 can predict the likelihood that a man will develop a prostate cancer manifesting unfavorable features at the time of diagnosis over the next 25 to 30 years. The findings suggest that more than half of men could forgo annual PSA testing and have PSA tests much less often.