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1/1. Effects of intermittent androgen suppression on androgen-dependent tumors. apoptosis and serum prostate-specific antigen.

    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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