Abiraterone acetate is a medication used in the treatment of prostate cancer. There are a number of different treatments that doctors may use for patients with this disease, and abiraterone acetate is only used once primary treatments, such as radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery are either unsuccessful or deemed not possible. Additionally, this medication is only used alongside treatment with the hormone prednisone and only after a patient has received treatment with the anti-cancer drug docetaxel.
The only approved use for abiraterone acetate is in the treatment of prostate cancer. This being a disease that only affects men, the medication is also only approved for use in men. Men with early stage prostate cancer cannot be treated with this medication, because it has only been approved for use in cases where the cancer has metastasized. This medication is not intended for use when prostate cancer is detected in the early stages because, in these stages, the cancer is usually treatable.
Though it does not cure prostate cancer, abiraterone acetate is known to increase the life expectancy of many patients who take it. This drug works by preventing the body from producing androgens, which can cause tumors to grow rapidly. Androgens are produced by the tumors, the prostate and the testes and abiraterone acetate prevents it from forming in all three of these places. On average, treatment with this drug increases a patient's life expectancy by about four months, which is a significant improvement over patients who do not undergo the treatment and who have the same advanced form of prostate cancer.
Treatment with abiraterone acetate is only appropriate in cases where the prostate cancer is not likely to respond to castration or has already failed to respond to it. In many cases, the removal of the testes will cause a significant drop in the hormone androgen, and so the same effect can be achieved without the use of medication. A doctor will need to determine whether the prostate cancer falls into the category of castration-resistant prostate cancer.
Additionally, abiraterone acetate is only used in patients who have already undergone chemotherapy. Patients will have had to have undergone treatment with docetaxel, which is one of a number of anti-cancer medications, before abiraterone acetate will be administered. Prednisone is given at the same time as this medication, as studies have shown a marked improvement in patients who receive both drugs simultaneously.