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Cancer. 1993 May 1;71(9):2782-90.

Effects of intermittent androgen suppression on androgen-dependent tumors. Apoptosis and serum prostate-specific antigen.

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1
Department of Cancer Endocrinology, British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver Clinic, Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Since postcastration progression of tumors to an androgen-independent state appears to be linked to the cessation of androgen-induced differentiation of tumorigenic stem cells, the authors hypothesized that the replacement of androgens at the end of a period of apoptotic regression might result in the regeneration of differentiated tumor cells with further apoptotic potential.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

To determine the effect of intermittent exposure of androgens on the androgen-dependent Shionogi carcinoma, the tumor was transplanted into a succession of male mice, each of which was castrated when the estimated tumor weight became about 3 g. After the tumor had regressed to 30% of the original weight, it was transplanted into the next noncastrated male. This cycle of transplantation and castration-induced apoptosis was repeated successfully four times before growth became androgen-independent during the fifth cycle. In four of Stage C and three of Stage D patients with prostate cancer, androgen withdrawal was initiated with cyproterone acetate (100 mg/d) and diethylstilbestrol (0.1 mg/d) and then maintained with cyproterone acetate in combination with the luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonist, goserelin acetate (3.6 mg/month). After 6 or more months of suppression of serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) into the normal range, treatment was interrupted for 2 to 11 months. After recovery of testicular function, androgen-withdrawal therapy was resumed when serum PSA increased to a level of about 20 micrograms/l. This cycle was repeated sequentially to a total of two to four times over treatment periods of 21 to 47 months with no loss of androgen dependence.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results demonstrate that intermittent androgen suppression can be used to induce multiple apoptotic regressions of a tumor; they also suggest that the cyclic effects of such treatment on prostate cancer can be followed by the sequential measurement of serum PSA levels.

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