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Scientists Find Key to Hormone-Resistant Prostate Tumors
Date:3/10/2010

Discovery in mouse study may someday extend men's lives,,

WEDNESDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- Though hormone therapy has proven useful in treating late-stage prostate cancer, it often results in the development of fatal secondary tumors that are resistant to such therapy.

Now, however, researchers working with mice believe they have uncovered a mechanism by which the secondary tumors gain their resistance -- a finding that eventually might help prolong the lives of men with prostate cancer.

Substances secreted during the body's inflammatory response to the hormone therapy appear to play a role in creating resistance to hormone therapy, according to the study, published in the March 11 issue of Nature.

Doctors might be able to delay the onset of hormone-resistant tumors by two to three years if subsequent research finds a way to control the effects of inflammation, according to the research team, which included scientists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), the Scripps Research Institute in Florida and the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow.

Hormone therapy for prostate cancer, also known as androgen deprivation therapy or androgen ablation therapy, involves the reduction of male hormones in the body, according to the American Cancer Society. These male hormones, called androgens, promote the growth of prostate cancer cells. Reducing androgen levels can cause prostate tumors to shrink or can retard their growth, making them easier to remove surgically or treat with radiation.

"That therapy usually works, but in too many patients it leads to the appearance of castration-resistant cancer -- cancer that no longer responds to androgen ablation therapy," said Michael Karin, one of the UCSD researchers. "That form of prostate cancer is more aggressive, more metastatic and more difficult to treat with traditional chemotherapy and radiation therapy."

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