Evaluation of degarelix in the management of prostate cancer
Hendrik Van Poppel
Department of Urology, University Hospitals Leuven, Campus Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium
Abstract: Medical castration using gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptor agonists currently provides the mainstay of androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer. Although effective, these agents only reduce testosterone levels after a delay of 14 to 21 days; they also cause an initial surge in testosterone that can stimulate the cancer and lead to exacerbation of symptoms (“clinical flare”) in patients with advanced disease. Phase III trial data for the recently approved GnRH receptor blocker, degarelix, demonstrated that it is as effective and well tolerated as GnRH agonists. However, it has a pharmacological profile more closely matching orchiectomy, with an immediate onset of action and faster testosterone and PSA suppression, without a testosterone surge or microsurges following repeated injections. As a consequence, with this GnRH blocker, there is no risk of clinical flare and no need for concomitant antiandrogen flare protection. Degarelix therefore provides a useful addition to the hormonal armamentarium for prostate cancer and offers a valuable new treatment option for patients with hormone-sensitive advanced disease. Here, we review key preclinical and clinical data for degarelix, and look at patient-focused perspectives in the management of prostate cancer.
Keywords: degarelix, GnRH receptor antagonist, GnRH receptor blocker, prostate cancer
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