Oncology

Theranostics: A new treatment for prostate cancer patient John

How a new personalized treatment approach changed the course of John's disease.

Sameh Fahmy
Published on 1. November 2023
<p>After John was first diagnosed with <a href="prostate%20cancer">prostate cancer</a> 15 years ago, his doctors prognosis was no more than three years. John’s endurance, along with a new personalized treatment approach, Theranostics, changed the trajectory of his disease.</p>
Prostate cancer patient John and his wife Mary enjoying a coffee in the kitchen.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men and the third leading cause of cancer death in men in the western hemisphere.(1) Doctors rely on blood tests and physical examination to detect it and use MRI and biopsy for further diagnosis. Prostate cancer often progresses slowly and might not need treatment in the early stages. In later stages, treatment options include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery.

<p>John had been very active for most of his life. But in 2022, as a stage 4 prostate cancer patient, he could barely get out of bed. He had received chemotherapy, but the sessions soon fell into a familiar and disturbing pattern: the benefits of each round of chemotherapy would ultimately be outweighed by the side effects he experienced. Over time, he felt that the clinical trials he was eligible for were too physically demanding given his age and condition. His options became limited, and eventually he was offered hospice care.</p><p>It was during this time that he learned about Theranostics. “I was very weak when I came in to see Dr. Osborne, and we decided that this would be a good alternative,” he says. “There were six treatments, six weeks apart, and that was appealing to me because I had time in between.” Theranostic treatment offered new hope for John. It seemed like something he could tolerate, even in his severely weakened state.</p>

prostate cancer

<p>John began his treatment in April 2022. He experienced some nausea and vomiting after his first treatment, but those side effects quickly abated. The morning after his first treatment, his wife Mary was surprised to see him in the kitchen, making breakfast. “I couldn’t believe it,” she recalls. “He said, ‘Mary, would you like some breakfast?’ And I said, ‘Well, of course!’</p>
John’s physicians monitored his therapy response throughout his six treatments, which soon became an almost comfortable routine. He drove himself to the hospital, greeted staff, had his blood counts checked, and underwent infusion and then post-infusion quantitative scanning.
Imaging and laboratory diagnostics play a vital role in post-therapy monitoring and follow-up. John says that in addition to increases in physical stamina—like his ability to climb stairs without becoming winded—he soon began to notice an improvement in his mental and emotional state. “It has a psychological effect on you to feel like you’re unable to do anything, and your self-worthiness gets so low,” he says.

Joseph Osborne, MD, (left) with Mary and prostate cancer patient John.

<p>“The concept of theranostics has been around for decades, but it’s really become actionable and exciting now because there are several prospective clinical trials showing a huge benefit,” says Joseph R. Osborne, MD, PhD, Chief of Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, and Professor of Radiology at a leading academic institution’s hospital in New York City, USA, who oversees John’s treatment.&nbsp;<br><br>Osborne emphasizes that patients such as John can gain not just longevity from theranostics, but also dramatically improved overall health.</p>
John is now back to everyday tasks that he simply did not have the energy for before. He has even been able to travel again. He continues to see his physicians for regular follow-up and monitoring, and he and his wife both emphasize how grateful they are.
Prostate cancer patient John (right) and his wife Mary.

By Sameh Fahmy
Sameh Fahmy, MS, is an award-winning freelance medical and technology journalist based in Athens, Georgia, USA.