Father’s Day Draws Attention to Prostate Cancer

dadFather’s Day is just around the corner, but many dads won’t be around to celebrate. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. This week, a number of health organizations are encouraging dads to get screened for prostate cancer.

The week leading up to and including Father’s Day is National Men’s Health Week, designated by Congress in 1994 to raise awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer. This year, a couple of pertinent news items have coincided with this annual period. On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new chemotherapy drug to treat advanced prostate cancer. Jevtana, developed by Sanofi-Aventis, is expected to be available this summer. In a 755-patient clinical trial, the drug was found to extend survival by 30 percent to 15.1 months when taken in combination with the steroid prednisone, compared to 12.7 months for patients who took a different chemotherapy drug combined with prednisone.

The Vancouver Sun reports that researchers in British Columbia have developed an experimental treatment that effectively shrunk prostate tumors in mice without any observed toxic side effects. The treatment is based on a marine sponge from New Guinea.

As with any cancer, early detection is critical in prostate cancer. Companies working to provide an alternative to the PSA test, the current standard for prostate cancer detection, include:

Clarient, a provider of anatomic pathology and molecular testing services for pathologists, oncologists and the pharmaceutical industry. In 2009, the company launched a diagnostic test for prostate cancer. The test is based on a group of four genes that are linked to prostate cancer.

Stage I Diagnostics, which is developing a test called ProStage for the early detection of prostate cancer. ProStage is designed to use four biomarkers to detect the presence of prostate cancer and determine the difference between benign and malignant tumors.

Armune BioScience isn’t looking for cancer, says the company’s website, but for the body’s immune response to cancer. Immune defense proteins called serum auto-antibodies are more stable than tumor antigens and may be present in higher concentrations within the body, making them potentially valuable for cancer diagnostics. The company is developing four tests for various cancers, including prostate cancer.

DiagnoCure, whose prostate cancer detection test is based upon a genetic marker associated with prostate cancer. Preliminary data has indicated that the PCA3 marker may be less likely to produce false positives than the PSA test.

For patients who have already been diagnosed, the Prostate Px+ test by Aureon Laboratories is designed to predict disease progression and recurrence in patients with prostate cancer, helping physicians to make more informed treatment decisions that are personalized to the patient. The test was launched in 2008.

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