New prostate cancer breakthrough

Whenever there is a significant breakthrough in the treatment of cancer, I always feel a sense of relief. As a condition that plagues our lifetime, new and promising therapies are always greatly welcomed – and that’s exactly what a new study has just announced.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined the effect of combining two existing therapies for prostate cancer and showed the possibility of extending the lives of advanced, high-risk prostate cancer patients by 37 per cent.

The drug abiraterone, also known as Zytiga, was combined with a standard hormone therapy treatment in men about to start long-term hormone therapy. Abiraterone is typically employed in cancer patients who have stopped responding to the usual hormone therapy. It works by preventing testosterone from entering the tumour, starving it from testosterone-assisted growth.

The trial followed just under 2,000 patients, half of which received the combination therapy while the other half received the standard hormone therapy. In the abiraterone group, 184 patients died, compared to 262 in the standard therapy group.

According to lead researcher, Prof Nicholas James, “abiraterone not only prolonged life, but also lowered the chance of relapse by 70% and reduced the chance of serious bone complications by 50%”.

He added, “these are the most powerful results I’ve seen from a prostate cancer trial… it’s a once in a career feeling. This is one of the biggest reductions in death I’ve seen in any clinical trial for adult cancers.”

For the 46,500 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK each year, this must be incredibly reassuring news – especially as sufferers are now able to receive early access to abiraterone on the NHS, having previously been told it wasn’t a cost-effective treatment unless it was more advanced.

Every therapeutic breakthrough of this magnitude must be celebrated. It brings further hope to thousands of people suffering with this dreadful disease and we can only hope further successes continue to roll in.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dominic Rees
Editorial Health Researcher