Objectives. PC-SPES, an over-the-counter supplement, is actually a combination of eight different herbs. It is being used by patients to treat cancer of the prostate at different stages of the diseases and has been commercially available since November 1996. It has been observed to dramatically decreased prostate-specific antigen (PSA) values in several patients; however, its out-of-pocket cost ($162 to $486/mo) and potential side effects must be weighted against its potential objective benefits. We reviewed its use in 1 patient. Methods. A patient with clinically localized prostate cancer (T1c) with a PSA of 8.8 ng/mL, who decided to delay any conventional treatment, began treatment with 9 PC-SPES capsules/day. Results. After 3 weeks, his PSA dropped to 1.4 ng/mL and after a total of 8 weeks, his PSA was less than 0.1 ng/mL (undetectable). He has continued on a maintenance dose of 6 capsules per day, decreasing to 4 capsules per day, with a continuing undetectable PSA. During this time the patient also experienced a number of strong estrogenic effects: loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, extreme breast enlargement and enlargement and tenderness, reduction in overall body hair, pitting edema, and a significant drop in his lipoprotein (a) level (from 46 to 11 mg/dL). Conclusions. PC-SPES may provide additive advantages (or disadvantages) over prescribed hormonal treatments but must be compared with other hormonal and nonhormonal treatments in clinical trials with hormone-sensitive and -insensitive patients with prostate cancer to determine its future use or nonuse.
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