Objective: To determine if oral artemisinin is safe and has a short-term effect on prostate specific antigen (PSA) kinetics in patients with prostate cancer (CaP).
Design: Retrospective case series.
Setting: A private naturopathic urology clinic in Seattle, WA.
Patients: All artemisinin-treated CaP patients were identified retrospectively between 2005 and 2008. A total of 15 patients were identified who had taken artemisinin and included in the study, comprising 5 patients who had previously undergone radical prostatectomy (RP) and were having biochemical recurrences as well as 10 patients with no prior conventional therapy for CaP.
Interventions: High-dose, pulsed oral artemisinin 300–400 mg three times a day every other week for 3–24 months (median 9.5 months, IQR 5–12 months). All patients were treated with an array of other naturopathic therapies.
Outcome measures: The primary outcomes were the PSA doubling time and velocity; secondary outcome measures were signs and symptoms of metastasis and survival.
Results: Of those patients who have previously undergone RP, 2/5 (40%) had improved PSA kinetics after artemisinin therapy. Of those with no prior RP, 5/10 (50%) had improved PSA kinetics. No patient developed signs of metastasis and no patients died. There were no reported adverse effects.
Conclusions: This pilot study provides preliminary evidence to suggest that high-dose, pulsed oral artemisinin therapy may have activity in patients with CaP. A larger controlled trial is warranted to confirm these preliminary beneficial effects.
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