CASE STUDY

Stopping Prostate Cancer in its Tracks 

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst males, and the second leading cause of death in men. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with this cancer during their lifetime.

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About the Disease

Prostate cancer is a disease in which cells in the prostate start growing abnormally and uncontrollably. It is commonly detected by screening levels of a protein in the blood called prostate specific antigen (PSA). Once a biopsy confirms a diagnosis of prostate cancer, specific properties of the cancer are determined, such as the stage, the grade, and an indication of aggressiveness called the Gleason score. But increasingly, effective treatment also relies on a more in-depth interrogation of the molecular characteristics of the cancer cells.

“Prostate cancer is more likely to develop in older men and in African-American men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older, and it is rare in men under 40. The average age at diagnosis is about 66.”

American Cancer Society

Making it Personal

With the understanding that prostate cancer treatment will vary depending on the stage and characteristics of the disease, there no longer should be simply a “standard of care.” Private Health’s highly personalized treatments using advancements in molecular profiling have made the difference for many clients.

"According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with this cancer during their lifetime."

Early Adoption of Promising Cancer Therapies

A-76-year old client whom we will call Tom*, was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer when testosterone supplementation resulted in a huge PSA spike.

 

When Tom came to Private Health Management months later, he had already started androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) to quickly lower his PSA levels and had undergone six rounds of chemotherapy. Despite these standard treatments, Tom’s PSA levels began rising again, and his disease continued to spread throughout his bones. When prostate cancer spreads to the bones, it becomes very painful and difficult to treat. Tom and his physicians were gravely concerned about his prognosis because survival is frequently measured in months after the development of bone metastases.

 

Tom’s Private Health Care team, comprised of PhD researchers and clinicians with deep oncology experience, conducted an in-depth review of Tom’s clinical history and initial diagnostics. We also selected and engaged leading experts with experience specific to his situation, collaborating to develop personalized treatment alternatives. And, we initiated one of the most powerful weapons in our Intensive Case Management arsenal – comprehensive molecular profiling – to help determine the best course of action.

 

As part of our molecular profiling strategy, we enrolled Tom in a clinical trial to receive an investigational imaging technique, called a prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) scan. If the scan was positive, Tom would be eligible for a promising new prostate cancer treatment called PSMA radioligand therapy (PRLT) that was only available in Germany.

 

The scan was positive, so Tom traveled to Germany to receive this cutting-edge therapy. The outcome of the PRLT therapy was better than anyone could have expected. Tom showed an incredible initial response to the treatment, with disease regression throughout his body. Over the course of the next year, he received three additional treatments, his disease regressing further with each one.

 

While we continue to monitor Tom carefully, he has not needed any additional PRLT treatments in more than two years, remaining nearly disease-free to this day. To stay fit and healthy, Tom has incorporated exercise and physical therapy into his daily routine. With Private Health’s identification and early adoption of the most promising cancer therapies, Tom has received the priceless gift of “several years and counting” of high quality of life with his grandchildren.

Geographic Independence

Private Health’s research-based and highly personalized care approach empowers us to search for the best solutions no matter where they exist in the world. We provide this level of care and attention to all our clients, changing the treatment of complex cancers for the better, so that more “Toms” can experience the best care and outcomes available.

*Name changed to protect privacy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Eva Gordon, PhD

Vice President, Research for Private Health Management

Dr. Gordon has extensive experience as a medical researcher and science writer, with much of her career focusing on cancer and immunology. As a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Gordon studied how viruses evade detection from the immune system.