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In most cases, prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated when the cancer is confined to the gland. But prostate cancer can metastasize, or spread, to the bones and other parts of the body. Today, men facing metastatic prostate cancer have many treatment options. The goal of these therapies is to halt cancer growth, control pain, alleviate symptoms and prolong survival.
The prostate cancer team at the University of Chicago Medicine specializes in the latest techniques for the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer. A key feature of our program is the UChicago Medicine High Risk & Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinic (UCHAP), a clinic that provides focused care for men with aggressive and high-risk prostate cancer.
Medical oncologists with expertise in prostate cancer manage the treatment of men with metastatic disease. As members in the Prostate Cancer Clinical Trails Consortium (PCCTC), our specialists collaborate with experts at a dozen other academic institutions in the U.S. to design, implement and complete clinical trials of novel drugs for advanced prostate cancer. As a result, our medical oncologists have access to therapeutics not widely available. We continually research and develop new therapies for metastatic prostate cancer.
Systemic therapies — medications used to treat cancer by attacking it throughout the body — for metastatic prostate cancer include:
A treatment that removes or blocks the action of testosterone and male hormones, which can cause prostate cancer to grow. When testosterone production is blocked, prostate cancer goes into remission. Hormone therapy is the standard of care for metastatic prostate cancer. Although long remissions can be achieved with hormone therapy, cancer cells can eventually resist the treatment and learn to grow. This is called castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). There are newer, highly potent hormonal therapies to combat CRPC. Our expert medical oncologists are pioneering the use of these novel hormonal therapies and are at the leading edge of clinical research focused on improving these therapies.
Chemotherapy, alone and in combination with other medications, is sometimes recommended for hormone-resistant prostate cancer. Most commonly given intravenously, chemotherapy for metastatic prostate cancer can reduce bone pain and lengthen survival. Highly experienced oncology nurses administer chemotherapy in our patient-centered IV therapy suite located in the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine (DCAM).
Also called biologic therapy, immunotherapy uses the patient’s own immune system to boost and direct the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer. Some immunotherapies have FDA-approval, while others are available through clinical trials. Sipuleucel-T is an FDA-approved immunotherapy for the treatment of metastatic CRPC. It involves extracting immune cells — which are primed to fight prostate cancer — from the patient, and then returning them to the patient as white blood cell transfusions. UChicago Medicine's prostate cancer program is the only one in the Midwest providing the entire process of this intricate therapy from start to finish within one location — the IV therapy apheresis suite.
UChicago Medicine is one of just a few hospitals in the Chicago area that offers a special version of radiation called radium-223 dichloride. It is prescribed by our prostate cancer medical oncologists and administered by our nuclear medicine physicians. Given intravenously every month for six months, the radiation spreads throughout the bloodstream to selectively target the bones. The radium-223 then attacks the tumor with radiation, destroying cancer cells in proximity. This FDA-approved intravenous therapy is known to prolong life, reduce pain and improve the quality of life for patients with metastatic prostate cancer within the bones.
Our radiation oncology team routinely administers radiation therapy to sites of metastatic prostate cancer for local control or to alleviate symptoms, such as pain. Our radiation oncologists work with the medical oncology team to coordinate external beam radiation therapy with any systemic therapy.