Once thought of as only an anti-aging cosmetic treatment for wrinkles, fine lines, and facial indentations, Botox injections can now also be used for the management of early prostate cancers. According to the latest clinical trial conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center, the freezing properties of Botox can be employed in controlling the tumor growth and spread in adult males who have the localized disease (confined to the gland).
Cancer of the prostate is initiated in the glandular cells that secrete prostatic fluid (responsible for the fluidity of semen and also contain high energy molecules for the nourishment of sperm cells). Although other structures in the prostate can also undergo malignant transformation (leading to transitional cell carcinoma, small cell carcinoma and sarcoma), the overall prevalence is rare.
According to latest reports of American Cancer Society, localized prostate malignancy is responsible for 90% of all the reported cases. Due to low growth potential, the 15-year survival rate of prostate cancer is fairly high (about 93%) with even higher survival rate if surgery is performed.
About the Clinical Trial:
In order to study the effects of Botox on the cancer cells, researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston are conducting a clinical trial on 15 known patients with the localized disease. As part of the trial, the researchers will inject half of the prostate gland with saline and half with Botox. This strategy will be used to analyze the effect of two agents on the tumor cells.
All 15 participants in the clinical trial are scheduled for removal of the gland by radical prostatectomy. The research team will analyze the tumor cells to compare the response to Botox with saline treated gland. Of the three procedures performed so far, the results are promising, suggesting shrinkage of tumor mass in response to Botox compared to no change in case of saline treated gland.
While speaking to the Daily Mail, consultant in urology-oncology at North Bristol NHS Trust, Professor Raj Persad said:
“It is not known how Botox could exert an effect on cancer cells. It may deprive them of nerve elements crucial to their survival, but more research is needed to look at the effectiveness and to compare outcomes with the existing treatments.”
The research team at the University of Texas is also observing males for other prostate related issues like BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia – seen with physiological aging and leads to difficulties in urination and other lower urinary tract symptoms LUTS).
Prostate cancer and current treatment modalities:
Currently, various medical and surgical strategies are being used to manage localized prostate malignancy (which include hormone therapy, radiotherapy and surgery). However, the risk of complications is fairly high with most prevailing treatments, such as varying degrees of erectile disorders, incontinence of urine, or impotency.
Previous studies on Botox and prostate issues:
The trial conducted by the University of Texas is not the first investigational study. Scientists from of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Chang Gung University Medical College, Taiwan also reported their findings at the American Urological Association (AUA) annual meeting held at Anaheim, California. The research team identified that introduction of Botox injections in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia helped in resolving urinary symptoms in 75% of the patients. The team concluded: “Botox has been shown to be safe and effective. One injection, which takes five minutes, can prove effective for a year.”
Positive results from this research will open new treatment options for prostate cancer patients with minimal risk of urinary complications.