The Conference on Prostate Cancer 2011 was awesome! It was held from Friday, September 9 in the afternoon through late afternoon on Sunday, September 11 at the Los Angeles Airport Westin. Those hours were packed with highly informative presentations, with an interesting exhibit area also available.
This was my sixth conference. My first was in 2000, about nine months after I had been diagnosed with a challenging case, and all have been worthwhile, even with the cross-country trip for four of them. What struck me at this conference was that we in the prostate cancer community are now enjoying multiple breakthroughs that will make big differences in survival and quality of life, with the promise of an increasing number of breakthroughs to come.
This rich harvest of improving prospects for us is unprecedented. It is based on years of hard work by dedicated physicians, reasearchers, and patients.
Rhonda asked what happened, and Tall Allen and I - both of us attendees - have posted about how to relate what we heard and saw. I'm going to kick this off by listing some highlights below with brief comments. I expect this list will expand. Rather than going into detail under this thread, I'm going to post about these topcis under their own threads.
Many other important points were also discussed, but the topics above were the highlights as I saw them. I'm going to start a thread for each. Tall Allen was also at the conference and has mentioned his notes. I'm hoping that others who were there and may come across this thread will help Allen and me relate what went on and how it may benefit us. Attendees received a DVD of slides used by presenters, but I was told that it may be months before the conference DVD of presentations is available.
Here are some initial highlights: Active Surveillance
(AS) - Dr. Klotz, a surgeon/researcher with a worldwide reputation from Toronto, Canada, gave a major presentation. He is generally regarded as the lead guru for Active Surveillance. I was once again impressed with the large proportion of patients on AS who experience long-term success, and I was also impressed with the extremely low mortality rate. Androgen independent/"hormone refractory (HRPC) prostate cancer, PSA relapse
- A number of presentations touched on this topic of great interest to many of us, including a full presentation by Dr. Scholz and another by Dr. Myers. Bisphosphonates versus Estrogen Skin Patches for Bone Density
- I have relied on bisphosphonate drugs for years while on androgen deprivation therapy, but based on Dr. Myers' comments, I think I'll be switching to transdermal estrogen. This topic should be of interest to all of us on androgen deprivation therapy. Genetic tests leading to specialized treatment
- I had heard that this development was just emerging at the 2010 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. For example, a drug normally used for breast cancer might be just what a prostate cancer patient needs, based on genetic testing. Without such testing, it would be impossible to realize that. Dr. Myers described how he is already using genetic testing for some patients with well advanced cases, achieving some remarkable results. "Heart healthy is prostate healthy"
- This is not a new principle, but it was hammered home by Drs. Moyad and Myers, with others chiming in. The idea is that a lifestyle, especially nutrition and exercise, that promotes heart health also promotes prostate health and helps counter prostate cancer (as well as other serious diseases such as diabetes). Another key idea is that heart health is literally vitally important for men (and women!), especially for prostate cancer patients, among whom it is a much greater cause of death than prostate cancer! Ketoconazole, especially in second-line androgen deprivation therapy
- Dr. Scholz has become especially expert in this, making at least one major conference presentation in the past, but other doctors also chimed in. Unfortunately, many physicians shy away from putting ketoconazole to work because it requires special diligence by physicians and patients plus avoidance of several known pitfalls. It's use is quite practical, and it is remarkably effective; it just requires extra knowledge and attention. Unfortunately, I've heard more than one physician with a large practice in prostate cancer who has said he does not use ketoconazole because of the problems that need to be managed, probably not realizing that they can be well managed. Imaging of prostate cancer - especially C11 acetate PET/CTAC, 11C (choline) PET imaging (not the same thing?), and feraheme USPIO imaging
- The breakthroughs we learned about were, in a word, amazing!
We are now seeing major changes in the way prostate cancer is assessed by leading doctors, and it looks likely that use of these technologies will soon spread widely. Immunotherapy - Ipilimumab ("Ipi"), Provenge, Leukine, and others
- Immunotherapy was barely on the radar just a few years ago; it was not considered useful for treating prostate cancer. Now we are seeing some stunning results in treating quite advanced patients. Dr. Kwon (from Rochester, NY, home of PSA development) gave a talk that got rapt attention from other physicans at the conference. Moreover, he predicted confidently that many more such immunotherapy drugs would be emerging for prostate cancer (and other cancer)! Sexual side effects
- Dr. Stephen Auerbach made the major presentation. I missed the first part as I was attending a Meet the Speaker session from the previous presentation. XL-184 - Cabozantinib
- Dr. Drake of Johns Hopkins had everyone's jaw dropping with his stunning before and after slide of a patient with widespread bone mets. The bone mets virtually disappeared!
Some of these advances are still available only in clinical trials, but we got information about when we might expect FDA review and approval. We can expect some approvals in just a year to several years. Other advances we heard about are already available, but some are only accessible at certain centers or for certain types of patients. On balance, the technology in these highlights offers profound support, assurance, and hope to our prostate cancer community.
Take care all,