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New Jersey company obtains approval of cancer drug

New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson recently obtained approval from the European Commission for a new prostate cancer drug, called Zytiga. The drug will now be available for men with advances cases of prostate cancer who haven't responded well to hormonal treatment and who have not yet had chemotherapy. Notably, the drug is on sale in more than 60 countries, including the United States.

Prostate cancer is a slow, progressive type of cancer affecting the prostate gland in older men. In its early states, it often goes unnoticed. For example, several autopsy studies suggest that perhaps 80% of all men in their eighties had a beginning stage of prostate cancer -- unknown to them.

In its beginning stages, prostate cancer may be treated with minimally invasive radiotherapy treatments. In more advanced stages, a combination of radiotherapy and hormone therapy may be required. Radiotherapy for advanced prostate cancer typically requires daily sessions for around eight weeks. Hormone therapy has also been very effective in slowing down, and sometimes stopping the growth of cancer cells in the prostate. In extreme cases, surgical removal of the prostate may be required, although the risks of that procedure may be higher for very old patients.

Advanced stages of prostate cancer may prevent an individual from being able to work, in which Social Security disability benefits may provide relief. Admittedly, a diagnosis of cancer does not necessarily qualify a worker for SSDI benefits. Typically, eligibility is dependent on having a disabling medical condition that will last for a year or more. In some cancer cases, especially those involving early diagnosis, treatments may be completed in a few months, with no remaining signs of cancer. In such a case, a worker might pursue other forms of federal or state relief. However, an attorney can explain the requirements for SSDI assistance in greater detail.

For younger workers in New Jersey, perhaps the best advice is to eat healthy foods, exercise and minimize stress levels. That last piece of advice might surprise New Jersey readers. Yet a recent study found that stress can biochemically feed the growth of cancerous cells in the prostate. Although the connection between stress and cancer is not fully understood, researchers found that stress not only reduced the effectiveness of cancer drugs, but also accelerated the development of the disease in test subjects. Notably, however, prostate cancer subjects that were exposed to stress but also given a beta-blocker -- a drug which inhibits the body's release of adrenaline -- did not suffer the accelerated tumor growth observed in other similarly situated subjects.

Source: nj.com, "Johnson & Johnson prostate cancer drug gains European Commission approval," Jan. 11, 2013

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