Over time, as cancer cells mutate, they learn to produce the testosterone and other androgens they need for continuous growth. But Zytiga®, an FDA-approved, once-daily oral prescription medicine, gets inside the cancer cell and directly stop the production of androgens. Cancer cells go into remission, and PSA level should go down.
Unfortunately, not only does the drug stop androgen production in the cancer cells, it also stops the adrenal gland from producing certain steroids. This can cause side effects like high blood pressure and fluid retention. Low potassium levels and abnormal liver enzymes tests can also occur. While low-dose steroids like prednisone can help prevent them, steroids can have their own side effects (easy bruising, puffiness, infections).
Frequent blood work and checkups are necessary when patients first start this medication. It should not be taken on an empty stomach.
When used along with prednisone this medicine can help men whose prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body and is resistant to medical or surgical treatments that lower testosterone. It can be used earlier on, before chemotherapy.