Health Alert: Prostate cancer

NEW YORK (NBC) - Doctors at New York Presbyterian Hospital are successfully using a new compound to treat prostate cancer. But the success doesn't end there. The treatment is also showing promise in treating other cancers including kidney and breast cancer.

Nearly two years ago, Peter Leftakes was diagnosed with prostate cancer, "I wanted it out and, uhhh, everything went fine. No evidence of it having spread to the lymph nodes or anything like that."

Until a year later, when scans showed the particularly aggressive cancer had spread to his bone. Hormone treatments weren't working.

The prostate cancer patient said, "So, I said, uhhh, do you have any clinical trials? I wasn't necessarily interested in treatment at that time."

He got an infusion of an experimental compound called J591, which targets the blood vessels in the tumors.

Dr. Oscar Goodman Jr., an oncologist, says, "This is therapy that specifically recognizes the prostate cancer cell and delivers a cargo, to target and destroy the cancer cells."

The one time treatment directly attacks the blood vessels in the tumor without affecting healthy blood vessels.

This means doctors can actually shrink the tumors rather than just slowing or stopping their growth, which could mean fewer surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation in the future.

Dr. Goodman says, "This, I believe, represents a very hopeful new approach to treating prostate cancer."

But J591 isn't just helping prostate cancer patients like Peter Leftakes, who continues to do well nearly a year after his treatment.  A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that this is approach holds promise for all solid tumor cancers including kidney, lung, breast, bladder, pancreas, colorectal and melanoma.

Dr. Goodman says "it turns out that there's a little bit more to the story than we've led on and and it's more than just prostate cancer."

The study is preliminary - just 27 patients - but it gives researchers a new avenue to pursue as they embark on a larger study that looks for more than the proof of principal they now have.

Posted by Bryce Mursch