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Men's Cancers

A New Chapter is Emerging for Certain Cancers in Advanced Stages

Dr. Ricardo Rendon

President-Elect, Canadian Urological Association


The evolution of cancer management is bringing new answers and hope.

Prostate cancer treatment in Canada is rich with success stories. About one in eight Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, with more than 24,000 new diagnoses each year. And yet the vast majority of these will see it effectively treated with surgery and radiation if the cancer is found in the early stages. 

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Because prostate cancer is so prevalent, however, the cohort of rarer and harder-to-treat cases involving advanced and metastatic cancer is still very large. For these patients, the treatment journey has historically been a lot more difficult creating a need for new approaches.

Radioligand therapy: the next generation of cancer treatment

The latest advance in cancer care, called radioligand therapy (RLT), is a new approach that’s bringing optimism to patients living with various forms of cancer.

Traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy, have been successful in controlling cancerous cells, but they can also wreak havoc with healthy cells. RLT is different. 

RLT works through the bonding of therapeutic radioisotopes to specially crafted cell-targeting compounds that circulate through the body, binding selectively to cells with the targeted marker. In short, it’s precision medicine designed to directly target cancer cells with minimal damage to healthy surrounding cells.

One of the beautiful things about RLT is that it allows us to identify a specific target.

”One of the beautiful things about RLT is that it allows us to identify a specific target,” explains Dr. Ricardo Rendon, President-Elect of the Canadian Urological Association. “It doesn’t matter where they are, whether they’re in the original cancer site itself or whether they’ve spread to the bones or elsewhere. For example, if they’re prostate cancer cells, we’re going to find them in those places.”

A similar targeted radioisotope therapy has already revolutionized thyroid cancer treatment, and the development of RLT is now offering hope to patients with different cancers including advanced prostate cancer.

A new era of multidisciplinary cancer care

Administering this advanced therapy requires profound collaboration between medical professionals in multiple domains. These radioisotope techniques fall within the field of nuclear medicine, and so many cancer care teams are seeing nuclear medicine practitioners newly bolstering their ranks. “With this disease and some other diseases where we can use nuclear medicine to deliver the treatment, doctors from nuclear medicine are becoming more involved in treatment as well as diagnosis,” says Dr. Rendon. “It falls under the idea of personalized medicine. Most patients have to be treated as unique cases. The only way of doing that is through multidisciplinary care.”

This new approach of multidisciplinary precision medicine — with medical and urological oncologists and nuclear medicine doctors working alongside specialized nurses and other healthcare professionals — is ushering in a new era of hope for those in the more advanced stages of prostate cancer.

“When it gets to those stages, up until 10 years ago, we had very little to offer,” says Dr. Rendon. “Now we have so many different treatment options. In 10 years of research, we’ve doubled the life expectancy of patients, which is essentially unparalleled in any other cancer. We continue to do a lot of research and this is among the most active areas of research in oncology. We have hundreds of trials underway.”

This evolution in cancer management is presenting options for patients and creating opportunities for informed discussions on how to move forward when cancer advances.


For more information about prostate cancer, visit PROCURE.ca.

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This article was made possible with support from a research-based pharmaceutical company.

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