Prostate cancer breakthrough: Urologists want data, evidence
The Editor, Sir:
The Jamaica Urological Society (JUS) is the local association of urologists who are surgical specialists concerned with the treatment of genito-urinary disorders, such as prostate cancer. The society, therefore, feels a sense of responsibility to the public for disseminating accurate information regarding the disease. It is against this background that we feel it is necessary to comment on recently published newspaper articles regarding a new and locally developed drug therapy for prostate cancer.
The JUS notes with interest the recent launch of a nutraceutical product for prostate cancer, developed by Dr Henry Lowe and his team, which claims to reduce or "eliminate deadly disease". This news comes at a time of growing awareness of the disease which is now widely recognised, among the population, to be very common and is indeed the commonest cancer in Jamaican men and the leading cause of cancer death among men in Jamaica. For this reason, the JUS is always open to valid new strategies, which have undergone the requisite scientific evaluations, to combat the disease.
The JUS, therefore, eagerly awaits the publication of the scientific data which critically assesses the efficacy and safety of this product in the treatment of patients with prostate cancer. We are fully aware of the fact that the product has just been launched and, as such, long-term data would not be available. However, preliminary investigations such as in-vitro (laboratory) studies, animal studies and some initial assessments of its safety in human beings have no doubt been conducted, and we very keenly await the publication of such data.
Prostate cancer has tremendous variability in its biological behaviour and patients also present at different stages in the natural history of the disease. The JUS is, therefore, also interested to find out what sub-groups of patients with prostate cancer are likely to benefit from this agent. We are also curious as to the magnitude of the benefit. The Jamaica Observer report of (December 3 ) suggests that the product has the ability to eliminate prostate cancer. The JUS is particularly keen to examine the scientific data in support of this particular claim.
The general public should also be aware that the product's characterisation as a nutraceutical means that the level of scrutiny it will receive from such regulatory agencies as the Food and Drug Administration, in the United States, is much less than would be the case for a product classified as a pharmaceutical agent.
The JUS would, therefore, caution members of the public, and in particular men suffering from the disease, to use the available scientific evidence to inform their opinions and expectations. Further, it is well established that prostate cancer can be cured in its early stages and may also be well controlled even in advanced, incurable stages. It is important, therefore, that prostate-cancer sufferers not abandon established standard therapies until more information regarding emerging treatments is available.
We are, etc.,
The Jamaica Urological Society
Department of Surgery
University of the West Indies
Mona, Kingston 7