Recently, several important studies have validated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) as a reliable measure of response to chemotherapeutic treatment in advanced hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Furthermore, although chemotherapy in this setting has always been considered palliative, several analyses of recent clinical trials have demonstrated a significant association between declines in PSA values of 50% or more and prolonged survival. Mitoxantrone, in combination with prednisone, has been shown to provide significant palliation and improved quality of life. The use of combinations of chemotheraputic agents also seems to provide significantly superior objective and subjective responses compared with single-agent regimens. In particular, estramustine has been shown to synergize many of the agents used in prostate cancer treatment and has been demonstrated to provide significant palliation and decline in PSA levels in combination with vinblastine, vinorelbine, etoposide, paclitaxel, and docetaxel. The results of several important trials of the taxanes both as single agents and in combination with estramustine have been completed in the past year and have demonstrated that these agents are very effective in the treatment of hormone-refractory prostate cancer.
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