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Urology. 1999 Mar;53(3):530-4.

Intermittent androgen suppression in the management of prostate cancer.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre, Canada.



Intermittent androgen suppression (IAS) has been suggested as a means of attenuating the androgen deprivation syndrome in men with incurable prostate cancer. Laboratory data suggest that intermittent therapy may prolong the duration of androgen dependence.


Since October 1993, 54 patients have entered a Phase II protocol consisting of 8 months of total androgen blockade (TAB) using leuprolide (Lupron) depot and nilutamide (Anandron) followed by an off-treatment interval of variable length. Eleven patients had biopsy-proven local failure after radiotherapy, 4 had biochemical failure, 24 had distant metastases (fewer than six axial sites on bone scan), 11 had combined local and distant failure, and 4 were treated as primary management for nodal disease. Mean prostate-specific antigen (PSA) at entry was 37 ng/mL (range 3.8 to 196). After 8 months of TAB, hormonal therapy was discontinued for those patients whose PSA was less than 4.0 ng/mL and stable or decreasing and was resumed (cycle 2) when PSA increased to greater than 10 ng/mL.


As of April 1 998, mean follow-up was 33 months (range 14 to 53). Patients have completed at least one, and up to five treatment cycles. The mean time to nadir PSA in cycle 1 was 20 weeks, and the mean time off was 35 weeks (31 weeks for those with metastatic disease versus 39 for local or biochemical failure). In cycle 2, the mean time to PSA nadir was 17 weeks, and the mean time off was 30 weeks (28 weeks for metastatic disease and 38 weeks for local or biochemical failure). In cycle 3, the time to PSA nadir was 19 weeks. Full testosterone data are available for 40 patients in cycle 1. Normal levels were achieved during the off-treatment interval in 73% by a mean of 18 weeks (median 9). Testosterone normalization in cycle 2 was achieved in 71% at a mean time of 17 weeks (median 14).


TAB can be used intermittently, and appears to be more appropriate for patients with local or biochemical failure. Testosterone recovery is not universal in the off-treatment intervals. IAS needs to be investigated in a randomized trial to determine the effect on overall survival and quality of life.

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