Worsening anemia signals poorer outcomes in men treated for advanced prostate cancer

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute and Southwest Oncology Group have identified a new method of determining how men with advanced prostate cancer will respond to treatment. They found that worsening anemia during the first three months of hormonal therapy for prostate cancer that has spread predicts shorter survival and earlier relapse.

"These results suggest that by monitoring anemia during the first three months of treatment, we can provide men with a better idea of how well they will fare," said principal investigator Tomasz Beer, M.D., director of the prostate cancer research program in the OHSU Cancer Institute. Beer will present results of this study at the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association in Atlanta on Tues., May 23.

Researchers also found that race alone was not a strong predictor of survival or disease progression. However, they found that men with the same hemoglobin levels before treatment experienced significantly different overall and progression-free survival depending on whether they were black or white. Hemoglobin levels in the blood are measured to monitor anemia. Lower levels of hemoglobin are considered anemic.

"Outcomes for prostate cancer have always been worse for black men than their white counterparts and the reasons behind this have not been fully understood," Beer said. "Differences in anemia could help us understand why blacks do worse and maybe make it possible to do something about it."

Overall, researchers found that anemic blacks fare worse than anemic whites and that blacks with high baseline hemoglobin fare better than whites with similar hemoglobin levels.

"Our study was not designed to answer questions about this complex and novel finding, but we are examining a number of hypotheses," Beer said.

Anemia is common among newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients with metastatic disease

Contact: Rachel MacKnight
Oregon Health & Science University

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