The growth of prostate cancer is controlled by several hormones and growth factors. In cases of metastasized prostate cancer, antigonadotropic therapy is currently considered state-of-the-art treatment. Surgical therapies such as adrenalectomy and hypophysectomy are no longer in use. Nevertheless, hypophysectomy has proven efficacy for palliative pain treatment as well as increasing duration of survival.
The authors present the case of a 63-year-old man with metastatic prostate cancer who presented with high serum prostate-specific antigen levels (1216 μg/L) and cavernous sinus syndrome. His disease was progressing despite leuprorelin and docetaxel therapy, and he had severe bone pain despite high-dose pain therapy. He was also anemic. Contrast-enhanced MR imaging showed a pituitary lesion as well as metastatic infiltration of the skull base including the cavernous sinus. The patient's serum level of prolactin was mildly elevated, testosterone was below the detection limit, and insulin-like growth factor–I (IGF-I) was in the upper range for a patient of his age (233 μg/L). Because of the elevated prolactin and high-normal IGF-I levels he was offered a hypophysectomy in addition to pituitary tumor removal. Histological examination of the resected lesion confirmed a nonsecreting pituitary adenoma with infiltration of prostate cancer cells. Postoperatively the patient's prostate-specific antigen levels dropped to 876 μg/L, his bone pain resolved, and the cavernous sinus syndrome improved. Nevertheless, he died of septicemia 4 months after surgery.
Older publications as well as this case have shown the benefit of hypophysectomy for pain treatment. A reduction of IGF-I levels even in the final stage metastasized prostate cancer may play a major role. Respectively, clinical studies with somatostatin analogs are currently in progress, which may lead to a “new” way of treatment in these otherwise hopeless patients. On the basis of the pain relief seen after hypophysectomy in this case and similar benefits reported in older publications, the authors raise the question whether this treatment should be offered more frequently, and whether additional medical options of hormone treatment may be beneficial in similar cases.