Prostate cancer is a malignant disease of the male reproductive system. It occurs when there is an uncontrollable growth of cells in the prostate, a gland present below the bladder, near the rectum and around the urethra. Prostate cancer affects the urinary and reproductive systems, causing symptoms like urinary problems including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often especially at night, blood in the urine, erectile dysfunction, pain, and weakness or numbness in the limbs.
There are different treatment options to treat prostate cancer. While chemotherapy is not the most common option and in most cases does not cure the disease, it may be an option for patients whose metastasized tumor becomes resistant to hormone therapy. Chemotherapy is a treatment method based on injecting or orally taking anti-cancer drugs, which enter the bloodstream to reach distant organs. Docetaxel (Taxotere), Cabazitaxel (Jevtana), Mitoxantrone (Novantrone), and Estramustine (Emcyt) are the most common chemotherapy drugs, but there are other options as well.
How Doxorubicin Works
Despite not being the most common compound for treating prostate cancer, doxorubicin is a chemotherapy drug that is sometimes used. It is delivered by injection in combination with other chemotherapy drugs. Doxorubicin compound derives from a bacterium called Streptomyces peuceticus and it works by binding to the DNA of a cell and inhibiting the production of protein. Therefore, it is expected to target and attack the tumors even in distant organs from the prostate.
“Doxorubicin is a widely used cancer chemotherapeutic with significant side effects that include myelosuppression and cardiotoxicity. Lipid encapsulation of the drug was expected to decrease these toxic side effects, since liposomes can penetrate endothelial lesions found in the neovasculature of tumors but not in normal blood vessels,” stated the study “The Use of Doxil® (Caelyx®) for the Treatment of Prostate Cancer—Past, Present, and Future,” which also added that the compound has leaky vasculature that offers it a capacity to selectively target the tumor.
Doxorubicin to Treat Prostate Cancer
Doxorubicin has been available in the US since 1991 and it is particularly indicated for the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer and multiple myeloma. However, it has also been used as a less conventional treatment for patients with prostate cancer. “There is a pressing need for new agents to treat hormone-refractory prostate cancer (HRPC). Doxorubicin has shown modest activity in this setting, but its use is limited by its toxicities. Liposomal encapsulation of doxorubicin appears to promote enhanced tumor accumulation in some tumor types, and toxicity appears to be reduced,” explained the authors of the study “Liposomal doxorubicin for the treatment of hormone-refractory prostate cancer.”
During the phase II trial of the study, the investigators concluded that treatment was well tolerated. Monotherapy with doxorubicin had only modest activity in the treatment of HRPC, but it is considered an interesting treatment in combination with other types chemotherapy drugs, being the most common Docetaxel. The same results were demonstrated in the study “Combination Effects of Docetaxel and Doxorubicin in Hormone-Refractory Prostate Cancer Cells,” which showed that the combined chemotherapy drugs lead to high synergy and effective cell death. The drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration with doxorubicin hydrochloride as main active ingredient are commercialized under the brand names Adriamycyn PFS, Doxil (liposomal) and Rubex.
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