In recent years, immunotherapy has emerged as a viable and attractive strategy for the treatment of prostate cancer. While there are multiple ways to target the immune system, therapeutic cancer vaccines and immune checkpoint inhibitors have been most successful in late-stage clinical trials. The landmark Food and Drug Administration approval of sipuleucel-T for asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic metastatic prostate cancer set the stage for ongoing phase III trials with the cancer vaccine PSA-TRICOM and the immune checkpoint inhibitor ipilimumab. A common feature of these immune-based therapies is the appearance of improved overall survival without short-term changes in disease progression. This class effect appears to be due to modulation of tumor growth rate kinetics, in which the activated immune system exerts constant immunologic pressure that slows net tumor growth. Emerging data suggest that the ideal population for clinical trials of cancer vaccines is patients with lower tumor volume and less aggressive disease. Combination strategies that combine immunotherapy with standard therapies have been shown to augment both immune response and clinical benefit.
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Reference: Asian J Androl. 2014 Jan 7. (Epub ahead of print)