Purpose of review: Androgen deprivation therapy is the cornerstone treatment for men with de novo or recurrent metastatic prostate cancer. Unfortunately, androgen deprivation therapy is primarily palliative, with nearly all men progressing to an androgen-independent state. Hormone-refractory prostate cancer presents significant management challenges and is the focus of this review.
Recent findings: Investigations into the pathophysiology of hormone-refractory prostate cancer, the exploration of chemotherapeutic combinations, novel biological targets, skeletal protectants, and radiopharmaceuticals, as well as new prognostic tools are expanding the clinician's armamentarium and improving patient outcomes.
Summary: Bisphosphonates and chemotherapy are providing effective palliative approaches. Phase II trials of taxane-based regimens show higher response rates and longer survival than has typically been achieved with existing standards. Two completed randomized phase III studies to be reported in mid-2004 will more definitively answer the question of whether currently available chemotherapy can improve survival.