Vitamin D May Increase Effectiveness of Prostate Cancer Treatment, OHSU Study Finds

05/23/01    Portland, Ore.

High doses of an active form of vitamin D once a week seem to boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy in prostate cancer patients, say researchers at Oregon Health & Science University. Oncologist Tomasz Beer, M.D., assistant professor in the OHSU School of Medicine, said men treated with the combination therapy had reductions in PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels, a marker used to determine presence of the cancer, more frequently than expected with chemotherapy alone.

The study looked specifically at patients who received initial hormonal treatment for their cancer, but had the disease return. "At this stage, these men are at risk of developing disabling bone pain from advancing cancer," said Beer.

Of 21 men on the study, 16 saw their PSA levels decrease at least 50 percent and 11 of those saw their PSA levels decrease more than 75 percent. Based on these results, the hope is to use vitamin D to improve conventional chemotherapy. "We don't really expect to eradicate the disease, but we hope to stop it in its tracks," Beer said.

Results of this study and other news on new research and treatment for prostate cancer will be the subject of the first Pacific Prostate Cancer Conference on June 15 at the Doubletree Hotel - Jantzen Beach. The conference is sponsored by the OHSU Oregon Cancer Institute and is directed at patients and their families, as well as the general public. "We hope to create a less fearful and more open atmosphere for discussing this disease, which will affect one of every six men and is the second-leading cause of cancer death among men," said Beer.

Those interested in attending the conference can call 503 494-1951 or e-mail prostate@ohsu.edu, or visit the conference Web site at www.b-there.com/ersengine/pcc.

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