Survival for advanced prostate cancer 'triples' for men on trials

In collaboration with the Press Association

Men with advanced, incurable prostate cancer who are treated with the latest drugs have nearly three times the life expectancy of men treated a decade ago, according to data from the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Men who were treated in trials or under drug access schemes at the hospital survived 41 months on average, compared with between 13 and 16 months ten years ago.

All had prostate cancer which had spread and no longer responded to standard hormone treatments.

Just over three-quarters of the patients received a chemotherapy drug called docetaxel, which was approved for NHS use in 2005.

In addition, half were treated with abiraterone, a new prostate cancer drug developed by UK scientists, that only became available on the NHS last year.

A small number of patients were offered three other novel therapies: enzalutamide, cabazitaxel and radium.

Professor Johann de Bono, from the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden, who led the analysis, said it highlighted the "remarkable" benefits his team were seeing from the new treatments.

"Put simply, men are living for much longer with incurable disease than they did a few short years ago.

"Advanced prostate cancer is still incurable, but new treatments are giving men more time to do the things that matter to them with their loved ones. That couldn't be more important and shows the strides we are making in the fight against the disease."

Cancer Research UK's prostate cancer expert, Professor Malcolm Mason, agreed the results were a welcome step forward, but cautioned that the finding only applied to a small proportion of UK men with advanced prostate cancer.

"This is an encouraging analysis of men treated as part of a trial, and suggests that there is real cause for optimism in the field of prostate cancer. We're starting to see the benefits of decades of research, with the availability of new drugs like abiraterone - which Cancer Research UK helped develop - and several more in the pipeline.

"But the challenge now will be to translate these developments into 'real world' benefits that apply to all men diagnosed in future, not just those who take part in trials," he added.

Each year around 41,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer and just under 11,000 die from the disease.

The research is published in the journal European Urology.

Copyright Press Association 2013

References

  • Omlin A., Pezaro C., Mukherji D., Mulick Cassidy A., Sandhu S., Bianchini D., Olmos D., Ferraldeschi R., Maier G. & Thompson E. & (2013). Improved Survival in a Cohort of Trial Participants with Metastatic Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer Demonstrates the Need for Updated Prognostic Nomograms, European Urology, 64 (2) 300-306. DOI: