Clinical Review

Management of Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer

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Future of CRPC Treatment

Patients with CRPC should be considered for clinical trials when available. These patients’ tumors should be assessed with next-generation sequencing for analysis of microsatellite instability (MSI) or mismatch repair (MMR) as well as the presence of other potentially targetable mutations, as this information may bring into consideration additional investigational as well as FDA-approved treatment options. As of May 2017, immunotherapy with pembrolizumab is approved for patients whose prostate cancer is deficient in MMR or has a high MSI burden based on a study of 12 solid tumor types (including prostate cancer) with deficient MMR.40 Additionally, for patients whose tumor has ≥ 1% programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression, pembrolizumab has a 17% overall response rate and confers stability of disease in 35%, with a median response duration of 13.5 months.41 Cabozantinib is a mesenchymal epithelial transition (MET) kinase and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGF-R) inhibitor. When used in heavily pre-treated patients with mCRPC, it showed a radiographic PFS benefit but no survival benefit over prednisone monotherapy.42 One study showed that for patients whose mCRPC had a homozygous deletion and/or a deleterious mutation in the homologous recombination repair genes BRCA1/2, ATM, and CHEK2 or the Fanconi anemia genes, the response rate to the poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor olaparib was 88%, with a 100% response rate in those with BRCA2 mutations.43 Furthermore, mutations in these DNA repair genes predict increased sensitivity to platinum-based chemotherapy.

No chemotherapy regimen has demonstrated a survival benefit following cabazitaxel, although other chemotherapy regimens (in addition to mitoxantrone) have been shown to confer a palliative and radiographic response in clinical trials. For example, carboplatin has properties similar to PARP inhibitors, and has been given with docetaxel or paclitaxel as a salvage regimen in clinical trials in an attempt to lengthen time to tumor progression.44,45 Studies combining pembrolizumab with enzalutamide (NCT02787005), abiraterone with olaparib (NCT03012321), and cabozantinib with atezolizumab (NCT03170960) are ongoing, and preliminary data appears promising.

Supportive Care

Zoledronic acid or denosumab are FDA approved for men with CRPC and bone metastasis based on the ability of these agents to delay skeletal-related events, including pathologic fracture and spinal cord compression.46 Bisphosphonates, however, do not decrease the incidence of bone metastases.47 And while denosumab does delay the time to first bone metastasis in nmCRPC (particularly in patients with a PSADT of ≤ 6 months), it does not improve OS.48 Other supportive measures include exercise and nutrition. Moderate aerobic exercise for 150 minutes in addition to 2 or 3 strength training sessions per week is recommended by the American College of Sport Medicine to combat cancer-related fatigue.49 There are currently no dietary changes that are routinely recommended to improve the outcome of prostate cancer, but a study noted a shorter biochemical failure–free survival in men with prostate cancer who were obese and consumed a diet high in saturated fat.50


Prostate cancer affects more men in the United States than any other cancer. Once a patient is started on hormone therapy, in all likelihood their prostate cancer will become castration-resistant. Once prostate cancer has developed hormone resistance, there are a host of further treatment options available, including further hormone therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, bone-targeting agents, and clinical trials. Determining the appropriate sequence in which to use these therapies requires knowledge of the natural history of CRPC, the indications for changing therapies, the mechanism of action and adverse event profile of each treatment, and the optimal time to enroll in a clinical trial.

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