ATLANTA -- In one of the first studies of its kind, researchers at the University of California San Francisco report that an herbal compound significantly reduced prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels, an indicator of cancer cells, in men with advanced prostate cancer.
In response to the herbal compound, seventy-five percent of the men in the UCSF study experienced more than a 50 percent decline in their PSA levels. Men in the study include those who had never received hormonal therapy before (hormone-nave) and patients with hormone-resistant prostate cancer, whose tumors no longer responded to hormonal therapies.
The compound, called PC-SPES ("PC" stands for prostate cancer, "SPES" is Latin for hope) is a combination of eight Chinese herbs, the most common of which is saw palmetto. It is commercially available at health food stores as an over-the-counter supplement for the treatment of prostate cancer.
During the UCSF study, a total of 61 men (27 with hormone-nave prostate cancer, and 34 with hormone-resistant prostate cancer) were clinically evaluated for preliminary results. Study participants received nine capsules daily of PC-SPES. The majority of these men are still enrolled in the clinical trial and continuing treatment at this time.
"Our findings suggest that PC-SPES may have efficacy as a treatment for some men with prostate cancer," said Eric Small, MD, UCSF assistant clinical professor of medicine, co-author of the study. "However, as of yet, we cannot precisely pinpoint the estrogenic or active anti-cancer ingredients, if any, that PC-SPES may contain."
Small reports that 27 (100 percent) of the hormone-nave patients experienced more than a 50 percent decline in their PSA levels.
Likewise, 19 out of 34 (58 percent) hormone-resistant patients also demonstrated more than a 50 percent decline in their PSA levels.
He notes that the study's results are preliminary and require further evaluation
and a longer follow-up period
Contact: Abby Sinnot
University of California - San Francisco