How does Zytiga work to treat prostate cancer?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

Zytiga (abiraterone) treats prostate cancer by interfering with the production of androgens (male hormones) in the testes and adrenal glands—and in prostate tumors themselves, which under some circumstances start making these hormones.

Reducing the level of androgens like testosterone slows or stops the growth of hormone-sensitive malignancies, such as prostate cancer.

Dr. Marc B. Garnick, MD
Hematologist & Oncologist

Zytiga (abiraterone) was approved in 2011 for treating advanced prostate cancer. In a large, multicenter phase III clinical trial, prostate cancer patients treated with both abiraterone and a low-dose steroid lived, on average, almost four months longer than those treated with the steroid alone. The trial involved 1,195 patients from 13 countries with castration-resistant prostate cancer, disease that no longer responds to traditional hormone therapy. Prior to the trial, the patients had also received docetaxel (Taxotere), a type of chemotherapy.

Presenting their findings at the European Society for Medical Oncology, researchers announced that treatment with abiraterone reduced the risk of prostate cancer death by 35 percent. Men who took abiraterone plus the steroid prednisone lived a median of 14.8 months compared with 10.9 months for those receiving just the steroid and a placebo.

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