Mayo investigators studying immunotherapy for aggressive prostate cancer have found a combination therapy that has dramatically reduced tumor size to make surgery possible. The findings are preliminary — only two cases thus far — but the results are significant for future research. Learning you have prostate cancer is bad enough, but then to be told that your condition is inoperable can be devastating. That’s where Rodger Nelson found himself. He and his wife Carol were wintering in California. Doctors there made the diagnosis, but it wasn’t until he decided to return home to Minnesota for treatment that he was told an experimental therapy was his best option.
Several weeks went by. Rodger Nelson noted that his PSA scores were dropping about 50 points a month. At the end of four weeks Fructuoso Solano-Revuelta saw his go from a high of 74.4 to 1.2. “Within the next month it was undetectable. The MRI in June showed the tumor was quite a bit smaller,” he explained. “Then in September the radiologist who performed the MRI was quite surprised. He asked if I had undergone radiation therapy. I said no.” On Nelson’s MRI the shadows representing the tumor extending from the prostate and into the abdominal area had disappeared. His PSA was also undetectable. The discussion with Nelson and his wife, Carol, returned to the issue of surgery. The physicians wanted to wait.
Before receiving the MDX-010, both men underwent a hormone therapy called androgen ablation. It’s a combination of a pill that blocks testosterone and an injection tells the brain to order the testicles to stop producing it. This removal of testosterone from the system usually shrinks the tumor to some degree.