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Rising PSA after Prostate Cancer Surgery or Radiation: Can Nitroglycerin Help?

Posted Feb 08 2010 10:07pm

Prostate cancer, for men with a rising PSA after surgery or radiation, has been treated in various ways. Among the newest potential treatments is one that comes from an explosive item which has been modified to heal rather than destroy.

Joel Nowak, an advanced prostate cancer, elaborates in the following paragraphs, which I’ve reprinted with his permission. His report and comments are based on a paper published in a recent issue of the Journal of Urology.

Treating prostate cancer is the subject of a clinical trial conducted at Queen’s University, Canada, by researchers Robert Siemens, Jeremy Heaton, Michael Adams, Jun Kawakami and Charles Graham. They  have found that nitroglycerin, the widely used explosive which is also commonly used to treat angina, can treat prostate cancer.

The researchers found that very low doses of nitroglycerin slow the growth or even stop the progression of prostate cancer without the severe side effects we experience from current treatments.

The researchers based the trial on pre-clinical research carried out at Queen’s, where they found that nitric oxide plays an important role in prostate tumor progression and low-dose nitroglycerin is capable of controlling this process.

The researchers used low doses of nitroglycerin in a 24-month, phase II study, involving 29 men who had increasing levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) following prostate surgery or radiation (PSA only recurrences).

The men in the trial were treated with a low-dose, slow-release nitroglycerin skin patches known as NOVade. The pharmaceutical company, Nometics Inc. of Canada, developed the skin patches.

Of the 17 men who completed the study, all but one showed a stabilization or decrease in the rate of cancer progression, as measured by their PSA Doubling Time. There wasn’t any information presented about why 7 of the subject men failed to complete the study.

The trial results appeared in a recent issue of the journal Urology. In the journal they stated that, “We were very excited to see a significant slowing in the progression of the disease as evidenced by the men’s PSA levels, and to see this result in many of the men who completed the study.”

The potential for these findings could be significant and far reaching as nitroglycerin is inexpensive, has already demonstrated that it is safe and has already approved by the FDA. After additional confirmation studies, nitroglycerin patches could easily be prescribed as an “off label” and relatively benign treatment for recurrent prostate cancer. Nitroglycerin, perhaps a treatment on the horizon.

I’d like to add that “on the horizon” is Indeed the operative phrase. Clearly the sample size of 29 men was so small that many more, larger studies will have to be conducted before validating the current study's conclusions. - Rabbi Ed

Source: Joel T Nowak, MA, MSW at

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