Testosterone stimulates the growth of prostate cancer cells. Abiraterone works by inhibiting an enzyme in the body called cytochrome P450 17 (CYP17). This enzyme helps make testosterone. By blocking CYP17 activity, abiraterone decreases the amount of testosterone produced in the body.
The majority of testosterone in the body is produced by the testes. However, some testosterone is also made by the adrenal glands and in the prostate cancer cells. Abiraterone decreases testosterone made in the cancer cells and the adrenal gland. Therefore, this drug may work in prostate cancer that has been resistant to other medical or surgical treatments that only worked to decrease testosterone made by the testes.
Is It Safe for Children to Use Abiraterone?
This medication is not approved for use in people younger than 18 years of age, as it has not been adequately studied in this age group.
Is It Safe for Older Adults to Use Abiraterone?
The majority of people who participated in abiraterone clinical trials were 65 years of age and older. There were no observed differences in the safety or effectiveness of abiraterone in older and younger age groups.
Is Abiraterone Used for Off-Label Reasons?
On occasion, healthcare providers may recommend this medicine for something other than its approved use. This is known as an "off-label" use. The use of abiraterone in men who have not previously received chemotherapy with docetaxel would be considered an off-label use.
Zytiga Web site. Available at: http://www.zytiga.com/. Accessed June 16, 2011.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) news release. FDA approves Zytiga for late-stage prostate cancer. Available at http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm253055.htm. Accessed June 16, 2011.
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