Last week I had an e-mail which started “Dear Sir and Madam” – gosh, I thought, the writer must have known about me being on hormone therapy. The idea of hormone therapy is that it reduces the testosterone that feeds the cancer. It may have a few side effects such as hot flushes and sweating – when I mentioned that I seemed to be getting these to my consultant I just got a wry “Welcome to our world” look from the women in the room. The good news was that my PSA and platelet levels are roughly the same as the last time, one up slightly, one down slightly but not statistically significant.
So steady as she goes for the moment for PSA and platelets, but blood sugar levels may a different story. They have been knocked for six over the past nine months, with one of the culprits being the steroids I was on while having chemo. After a few months off them the steroids were re-started (at a much higher dose) to counter the immune thrombocytopenia. Hopefully the reduction in steroid dose (agreed at my last haematology consultation) will help there but I may need to keep a closer eye on things.
But back to prostate cancer and testosterone – there is now another approach being explored, not just starving the cancer of testosterone but going through a feast and famine cycle. To quote Professor Sam Denmeade, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, who led the study, “Our goal is to shock the cancer cells by exposing them rapidly to very high followed by very low levels of testosterone in the blood. The results are unexpected and exciting.”. The trial involved three cycles of “bipolar androgen therapy” (bat) which involves alternately flooding and starving the body of the male hormone testosterone – a bit of a testosterone feast and fast. So, another potential weapon in the oncologist’s armoury. Thanks to San Diego Dan for telling me about this.
Meanwhile back in the kitchen, just after an i-pad had been shut up a voice said “I don’t know who your father is” which was a bit weird. After a bit of reflection, the voice then said “In fact I don’t know who you are”. So we crept away hoping not to cause any more outbursts.