A Precision Drug for Prostate Cancer may Slow the Disease’s Spread

Prostate cancer cells can spread throughout the body, forming tumors. A drug used to combat some breast and ovarian cancers may one day be used to address the hardest-to-treat prostate cancers.

A drug used to treat breast and ovarian cancers tied to certain genetic mutations may help combat some of the most severe cases of prostate cancer.

Researchers tested the drug, called olaparib, in a randomized clinical trial of nearly 400 men with advanced prostate cancer and a mutation in one of several genes involved in repairing damaged DNA, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genetic defects raise the risk of certain cancers, including breast and ovarian (SN: 4/7/15). Up to 30 percent of men with the hardest-to-treat prostate cancers also have mutations in this type of gene.

In the Phase III clinical trial, designed to compare the new treatment with current standard treatment, the men were split into two groups based on their genetic mutations. The 245 men in one group had mutations in some of the genes most commonly associated with breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA1, BRCA2 and ATM), while the 142 men in the other group had other mutations in DNA-repair genes. About two-thirds of men in each group took olaparib.

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