NHS eyes pill that could HALVE death risk for prostate cancer patients

NHS eyes revolutionary pill that could HALVE the risk of death for prostate cancer patients

  • Hormone therapy taken by prostate cancer patients could halve the risk of death
  • Study found Abiraterone is effective treating prostate cancer patients earlier
  • Scientists found that only 7% of patients died after receiving the treatment while 15% of patients died from prostate cancer while receiving the standard care 

A revolutionary treatment that could halve the risk of prostate cancer deaths is being considered by the NHS.

Abiraterone – which is taken in tablet form – is already used as a type of hormone therapy for men with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

It works by stopping the production of testosterone, which helps keep the disease under control.

But now a study has found the treatment is effective in patients with locally advanced prostate cancer which hasn’t yet spread.

It could slash the risk of death in these patients who have the disease at an earlier stage by 50 per cent – and is now being considered for use by NHS England.

A revolutionary hormone treatment that is already used to treat advance prostate cancer could halve the risk of prostate cancer deaths in those at an earlier stage of the disease

The study, published in the Lancet journal, is part of a trial which followed patients over a six-year period and was led by a team at University College London and the Institute of Cancer Research.

A total of 1,974 patients were enrolled across two arms of the trial – 988 were given the current standard treatment while the rest were given this combined with abiraterone.

Around half of those in the abiraterone group were also given another hormone therapy called enzalutamide.

After six years of monitoring, the researchers found that adding abiraterone – whether alone or alongside enzalutamide – improved survival and decreased the chance of the cancer spreading.

Some 7 per cent of men on abiraterone died from prostate cancer during the follow-up period, compared with 15 per cent of those receiving standard care.

Those who had a combination of both hormone drugs recorded similar results, but with an increase in side effects.

Current standard treatment for those whose prostate cancer hasn’t spread yet involves hormone therapy with or without chemotherapy, often combined with radiotherapy 

These results, the scientists say, indicate that using abiraterone to treat earlier stage prostate cancer could extend lives and prevent the cancer from spreading.

More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK and around 22,000 patients are considered at ‘high risk’ of their cancer spreading.

Current standard treatment for those whose cancer hasn’t spread yet involves hormone therapy with or without chemotherapy, often combined with radiotherapy. 

The researchers hope health watchdog the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will soon publish updated guidance based on their findings.

Study co-leader Professor Nick James said: ‘Currently, abiraterone is only given to patients with very advanced prostate cancer.

‘Our latest findings are the first to show the drug can also benefit men whose cancer is at an earlier stage – improving survival and reducing the chance of progression.’

‘The next step is for NICE to consider and implement our findings, so that men can benefit from abiraterone before their cancer has spread.’ 

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