Combination of dexamethasone and a somatostatin analogue in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer

Published on Wednesday, 30 August 2017


The local microenvironment at the sites of cancer metastases protects tumour cells from anticancer drug-induced apoptosis via mechanisms, such as soluble growth factors and cytokines.

The concept of antisurvival factor (ASF) therapy as a component of anticancer treatments aims at neutralising the protective effect conferred upon cancer cells by the survival factor(s) derived by the local microenvironment, in order to enhance the sensitivity and/or reverse the resistance of tumour cells to other anticancer therapeutic strategies.

Herein, we review the translation of this concept from ex vivo studies to clinical applications in the setting of prostate cancer refractory to androgen ablation (stage D3). At this stage, which predominantly involves bone metastases, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) production (either growth hormone (GH)-dependent or GH-independent) can protect tumour cells from apoptosis, despite the significant suppression of androgens.

The application of the ASF therapeutic concept involves the combination of dexamethasone (which suppresses GH-independent IGF-1) and somatostatin analogue (which suppresses endocrine, GH-dependent IGF-1) with the pro-apoptotic effect of the testicular androgen suppression by sustained use of LHRH analogues.

In stage D3, patients who had failed anti-androgen withdrawal, chemotherapy and also had several other adverse prognostic features, the ASF-based combination achieved durable objective responses and major symptomatic improvement, paving the way for future applications of this approach.

The ASF-based combination therapy illustrates a novel paradigm in cancer treatment: anti-tumour treatment strategies may not only aim at directly inducing cancer cell apoptosis, but can also target the tumour microenvironment and neutralise the protection it confers on metastatic cancer cells.

The favourable toxicity profile of this therapeutic approach calls for its testing in a randomised controlled setting in metastatic prostate cancer and, conceivably, in other IGF-1-responsive malignancies.



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See also:

- Somatostatin in oncology, the overlooked evidences;

- The Di Bella Method (DBM) in the treatment of prostate cancer: a preliminary retrospective study of 16 patients and a review of the literature.