Suramin treatment in hormone- and chemotherapy-refractory prostate cancer

Urology. 1999 Mar;53(3):535-41. doi: 10.1016/s0090-4295(98)00544-5.


Objectives: Suramin, a polysulfonated naphtylurea with anti-growth factor activity, was used in the treatment of metastatic, hormone- and chemotherapy-refractory prostate cancer. Recent studies have proved the effect of suramin on prostate cancer.

Methods: Between March 1990 and January 1994, 27 patients with metastatic prostate cancer were enrolled in this study. Treatment regimen consisted of a loading phase, allowing patients to reach suramin serum levels between 180 and 250 microg/mL using a suramin dose of 1.4 g/m2 at 3-day intervals. Constant suramin serum levels were maintained by a 0.5 to 1-g/m2 dose every 7 to 10 days. Because previous studies showed suramin to have serious toxicity, compromised organ status was excluded by repeated examinations.

Results: Six patients did not complete the suramin loading phase because of side effects and were removed from the study. With an average cumulative suramin dose of 14.2 g, 33% of the assessable patients (7 of 21) experienced a more than 50% reduction of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and/or alkaline phosphatase (AP) serum levels. Mean survival in these suramin-responsive patients was 495 days. Two of these patients experienced a remarkable reduction of metastases in bone scan examinations. Another 48% of the patients (10 of 21) had essentially unchanged AP and PSA serum levels during suramin treatment, indicating stable disease. Mean survival of these patients was 341 days. In 4 patients undergoing suramin treatment, continuous clinical progression of the disease was observed (mean survival 79 days). Toxicity was less or comparable to prior reported studies; the most common side effects were polyneuropathy, allergic skin rash, and vortex keratopathy.

Conclusions: Suramin has limited, but significant, efficacy even in chemotherapy- and hormone-refractory prostate cancer, without serious toxicity.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analgesia
  • Antineoplastic Agents / blood
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / etiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Suramin / blood
  • Suramin / therapeutic use*
  • Survival Rate


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Suramin