Advancements in Cancer Treatments Offer Patients Added Hope
- Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor, 62, will return to live performances for the first time in two years since battling stage 4 prostate cancer.
- Pluvicto (lutetium Lu 177 vipivotide tetraxetan) is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved cancer treatment that specifically treats patients with a type of disease called prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA)-positive metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).
- PSMA is a protein expressed in some prostate cancers that can be targeted with medication. Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer means the cancer has spread beyond the prostate and does not respond to hormone therapy.
- Plutvicto is an intravenous radioligand therapy that targets cancer cells precisely in the body. The medication combines diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities, which can identify the presence of a target or PSMA protein on a patient’s cancer cells and kill them with minimal impact on normal tissues.
- It’s important to remember that most prostate cancer can be caught with screening exams, which include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a protein-specific antigen (PSA) test.
Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor, 62, who’s battled stage 4 prostate cancer since 2018, is on the verge of returning to the stage in a live performance for the first time in two years. He credits an innovative newly approved treatment he considers a “miracle treatment” for taking him from “end-of-life care” to seemingly giving him renewed life.
“I’ve faced right down the barrel of that dogs–t. I’m pretty fearless as it goes these days,” Taylor told Yahoo Entertainment.Read More
He described his unwillingness to draw added attention to his prostate cancer as “Duran denial,” referring to the group’s tendency to “plow through with good strength of character.” However, his earlier treatments sometimes made him feel dizzy, even during performances.
“I’d get this dizziness and have to stop and hold onto something. I’m the kind of person who won’t quit until I’m absolutely on my knees, but I realized, ‘I’m going to f—k this up for everybody else.’ So, I thought it was best to leave them to do it because they were on the road and were in good shape,” Taylor explained.
Some of Taylor’s side effects stemmed from the chemo he was undertaking. At one point, when he learned his cancer had metastasized to stage 4, he was facing “palliative, end-of-life care.”
When Taylor had to miss his Hall of Fame induction due to cancer, that affected him deeply.
“Missing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame brought me an intervention. I guess that’s the best way to describe it. That’s when Sir Chris Evans and his [Cancer Awareness Trust] team got in touch with me and said, ‘Let us take a look. There’s a lot we may be able to do for you,” Taylor said.
The added help by Evans led Taylor to an FDA-approved radiopharmaceutical drug called Pluvicto (lutetium Lu 177 vipivotide tetraxetan). Pluvicto may be helpful for anyone with prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate and has not responded to hormone therapy.
“Unlike chemotherapy, the quality of life you get from this is staggering. Like, wow. It can add three to five years to your life – and I’m going for the five because they think I can make that. I am still terminal because there’s nothing curative for [stage 4 prostate cancer]. But I’ve beat the odds with this treatment,” Taylor said.
“There are a lot of things the public aren’t aware of in terms of treatments. And I certainly wasn’t. If I’d have had more knowledge, I’d have been on Lutetium years ago,” Taylor said.
Helping You Find Resources on Prostate Cancer
Taylor’s ‘Miracle Treatment’
The FDA approved Plutvicto (lutetium Lu 177 vipivotide tetraxetan) in March 2022. It specifically treats patients with prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) – positive metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).
PSMA is a protein that is expressed in some prostate cancers and can be specifically targeted with medication. Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, more specifically, means the cancer has spread beyond the prostate and does not respond to hormone therapy, which is aimed at impeding cancer growth that relies on hormones to flourish.
WATCH: Symptoms of prostate cancer.
Plutvicto is an intravenous radioligand therapy that targets cancer cells precisely in the body. The medication combines diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities, which can identify the presence of a target (PSMA) on a patient’s cancer cells and then treat it directly with minimal impact on normal tissues.
“This agent specifically targets PSMA-positive metastasis and represents the first theranostic agent for use in castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer,” Dr. Penson continued.
To use Plutvicto, patients must first be given a PET scan using a special imagine agent that helps better identify cancer cells within the body that are PSMA positive.
“If the patients have PSMA-positive metastatic lesions on PET, then they would be eligible for the therapy. This combination of a (therapy that can deliver radiation to target cells) with an imaging biomarker positivity is a great example of precision medicine or what we call in nuclear medicine, theranostics (therapeutics + diagnostics),” Dr. Ghassan El-Haddad, associate member of the Diagnostic Imaging and Interventional Radiology Department of Moffitt Cancer Center explains.
Like most treatments, Plutvicto has side effects. The most common adverse reactions may include:
- Dry mouth
- Decreased appetite
- Screening for Prostate Cancer
Most prostate cancer is caught with screening examinations, which include a digital rectal exam (DRE) to check for lumps. The protein-specific antigen (PSA) test is another effective means of screening. This is a simple blood test that screens for prostate cancer. It looks for larger amounts of protein-specific antigen in the blood. An elevated PSA test does not always mean you have prostate cancer. It could also indicate that your prostate is enlarged, which is common, or could signal an infection or inflammation.
Prostate cancer does not always behave the same in every man it impacts. The cancer can be considered “low-risk” and can be slow-growing, and treatment might not be necessary. In other men, the cancer may grow faster or be more aggressive, requiring more immediate treatment. Because of this, there is some debate about screening.
WATCH: When to screen for prostate cancer.
The United States Preventive Services Taskforce recommends that men at average risk between the ages of 55-69 should talk with their doctor about the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening. Most doctors agree that men over 70 do not need screening.
SurvivorNet experts suggested that men consider factors like their family history, genes, and age when deciding whether and when to screen.
Other warning signs of prostate cancer are:
- Blood in your urine
- Trouble getting an erection
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- Pain in your back, hips, thighs, or other bones
- Unexplained weight loss
Questions for Your Doctor
If you have experienced symptoms associated with prostate cancer or have a screening coming up, here are some questions you may ask your doctor:
- If I have elevated PSA levels, what could be causing that besides cancer?
- How long will it take to learn if my PSA levels warrant further testing?
- What are the treatment options that are best suited for me based on my risk level?
- What financial resources exist to help me with the costs associated with treatment?
- How long will my potential treatment prevent me from working or continuing normal activities?