Prostate cancer continues to be the most common lethal malignancy diagnosed in American men and the second leading cause of male cancer mortality. Over 60 years ago, Huggins and Hodges discovered androgen deprivation as a first-line therapy for metastatic prostate cancer, which leads to remissions typically lasting 2 to 3 years, but in most men prostate cancer ultimately progresses to an androgen-independent state resulting in death due to widespread metastases. Multiple mechanisms of androgen independence have now been documented, including amplification of the androgen receptor as well as signal transduction pathways that bypass the androgen receptor completely. In 2004, two landmark studies demonstrated a survival advantage in androgen-independent prostate cancer patients utilizing docetaxel chemotherapy, setting a new standard of care for this disease. In addition, treatments with the bisphosphonate zoledronic acid and systemic radioisotopes have also been shown to have palliative benefits in this population. Building on these advances, several new traditional chemotherapeutic agents as well as new targeted therapies are under development.
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