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Home » EU Health, Health, Prostate Cancer

Role of immunologic prevention and therapy for prostate cancer

Submitted by on 14 Jul 2017 – 10:05

Analysing several forms of immune modulation for prostate cancer and cases of early detection, Dr Arnulf Stenzl, Chairman, EberhardKarlsUniversity, explains why early treatment using a form of vaccination might treat the disease better

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in the European Union and still the 4th most frequent cause of cancer death. What does this tell us? Like breast cancer, prostate cancer – despite 76.000 men dying from it every year – does not lead to death in all cases.

Genetic constellations, environmental factors, and an increasing life expectancy will all lead to a further increase in the number of prostate cancer patients throughout Europe in the next decade. The European randomised study on prostate cancer – the largest randomised screening study in the world – has shown that screening will reduce mortality, however, at the prize of overtreatment.

Prostate cancer is known to be an immunogenic tumor, which means it can be influenced by modulation of the immune system. Several forms of immune modulation have been tested and an approval has been either given or is under consideration at the European Medical Association and FDA respectively.

In several research projects, we and others have been able to demonstrate the possibility of changing the immune system so that it can recognise (again) tumor cells which then will be destroyed by the body`s own surveillance system. However, immunotherapy should not be applied predominantly at the end of an advanced stage of the disease, but should be included in the armamentarium of treatment modalities at the earliest stage possible.

Vaccination prior to a curative removal of the prostate (prostatectomy) is one of the possible strategies which should be elucidated in the future by research calls.(Fig. 1).

Furthermore current knowledge of the interaction between the immune system and the development of clinical prostate cancer also leads to the assumption that men at risk due to their family history of cancer of prostate cancer (or even a broader population of men) might benefit from a protective immunomodulation preventing the clinical outbreak of prostate cancer (Fig. 2).

In the future, early detection of this disease may help some men, however a better solution may be prevention or early treatment that uses some form of vaccination as a booster of a standard treatment and has minimum side effects.