Abiraterone finding a 'significant step forward' for prostate cancer treatment

In collaboration with Adfero

News that a drug developed by British scientists could help to extend overall survival of men with advanced prostate cancer by four months has been welcomed as a "significant step forward".

Professor Malcolm Mason, Cancer Research UK's prostate cancer expert, said: "This is a significant step forward in the treatment of men with advanced prostate cancer.

"These results showed that abiraterone provided a worthwhile extension to life in men who had exhausted all standard treatments for the disease and this makes this study particularly noteworthy. The drug is also easy to take as a tablet and has relatively few unpleasant side effects - those experienced, including fluid retention and raised blood pressure, can usually be managed.

"It will be an important treatment option for men who have been previously prescribed docetaxel. It is likely an application will be made soon for a licence for UK use, and we hope that patients in the UK will be able to access the drug several months after a license is granted.

"Researchers are planning trials to test abiraterone in men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at an earlier stage and there is hope that in several years clinical trials might show that the drug could effectively treat less advanced cases of the disease as well."

Results of a phase III clinical trial involving abiraterone, discovered at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), were presented today (Monday, October 11th) at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress in Milan, Italy.

The study involved 1,195 hormone resistant patients with advanced prostate cancer, whose tumour had progressed after treatment with docetaxel.

Of those taking part, 797 received abiraterone acetate plus the steroid prednisone, while the remainder were given the steroid and a placebo.

Significantly, those who were given abiraterone acetate had an average overall survival of 14.8 months, compared with the 10.9 months seen in those who received the placebo.

Patients receiving abiraterone acetate were more likely to see a fall in their prostate specific antigen level, which is used as a marker of prostate cancer growth, and on average it took longer for these levels to rise again. Tumour growth was also delayed.

According to chief investigator Dr Johann de Bono from the ICR and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, the results of the trial are particularly welcome given the scarcity of treatment options for these men.