Here's Why Collaboration Is Important for Progress in Genitourinary Cancers

CURE, Genitourinary Cancers Special Issue 2021,

It is important that the whole community understand that basic research and clinical trials can continue to improve outcomes for patients with genitourinary cancer.

Prostate cancer affects nearly 250,000 patients in the United States annually, making it the second most common cancer among men. In addition, between 10% and 20% of men with prostate cancer are resistant to treatment, meaning that their disease did not respond to other therapies including chemotherapy and anti-androgen therapy.

Prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA)-targeting agents are gaining lots of traction in the prostate space, with radioligand lutetium-Lu-117-PSMA-617 (177Lu-PSMA-617) possibly being the closest to potentially obtaining approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This technology allows PSMA-targeting agents to attach to cancerous cells, rather than normal tissues, giving the treatment greater selectivity for tumor cells and sparing normal tissue.

Recent data from the VISION clinical trial presented at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting demonstrated that adding 117Lu-PSMA-617 to standard-of-care treatment in patients with advanced-stage PSMA-positive metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer improved survival compared with standard of care alone. Those findings led to the therapy receiving FDA breakthrough therapy designation, which may expedite its approval.

In this special issue of CURE®, we speak with three experts to learn more about what makes PSMA-targeted therapies unique, how they work to target cancer cells and how they may change the treatment landscape for prostate cancer. We also spoke with two patients treated with 117Lu-PSMA-617, one of whom credits the therapy for allowing him to meet his first grandchild. The second patient, after being diagnosed, learned as much as he could about 117Lu-PSMA-617 and even traveled to Germany to access it outside a formal clinical trial.

Thanks to the efforts of researchers and to the participation of patients who enrolled in the VISION trial, we are now on the cusp of an important approval by the FDA in treating patients with treatment-resistant prostate cancer. Advancements like these would not be possible without patients and their supporting friends and families. This highlights the importance of being aware of and participating in available clinical trials (if acceptable after careful consideration). It is important that the whole community understand that basic research and clinical trials can continue to improve outcomes for patients with cancer.

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