New drug for prostate cancer sufferers can extend life by five months
Enzalutamide survived for more than 18 months compared to 14 for those on a placebo
00:47 GMT, 16 August 2012
A new drug for men with advanced prostate cancer gives them five months’ extra life when they have run out of options.
Doctors hope the British discovery will help turn prostate cancer from a killer disease into a chronic illness by combining new and older agents.
Trials showed men taking enzalutamide survived for more than 18 months compared with less than 14 months for those on a placebo.
Condition: Doctors hope prostate cancer can be turned from a killer disease into a chronic illness (picture posed by models)
Almost half of those receiving the new drug had a better quality of life.
About 10,500 British men have advanced prostate cancer that has become resistant to standard hormone treatments.
Enzalutamide, which was developed by British scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital, in London, is one of four discoveries in the past two years that significantly extend life.
Professor Alan Ashworth, chief executive of the ICR, said cancer research in the UK was finally delivering new treatments for men with advanced prostate cancer.
‘Advanced prostate cancer is extremely difficult to treat, and it’s taken a massive co-ordinated effort to finally bring new drugs into the pipeline, after decades where there were no options once old-style hormone treatment stopped working,’ he said.
‘What we’re seeing now is an unprecedented period of success for prostate cancer research, with four new drugs shown to extend life in major clinical trials in just two years, and several others showing promise.
‘It truly is a golden age for prostate cancer drug discovery and development.’
Nearly 1,200 patients were given enzalutamide following chemotherapy. Survival for those taking the new drug was 18.4 months on average, compared with 13.6 months for those on a placebo.
Findings: A thermograph showing prostate cancer. Around half those who received the new drug had a better quality of life
About 43 per cent of men on enzalutamide reported an improved quality of life, compared with 18 per cent of the placebo group, reported the New England Journal of Medicine.
In November last year, the trial’s Independent Data Monitoring Committee recommended it be stopped early and men who received the placebo be offered enzalutamide.
The drug, made by pharmaceutical companies Medivation and Astellas, could be licensed for use by British patients early next year. The cost is not yet known.
Professor Martin Gore, of the Royal Marsden Hospital, said ‘We are delighted with the recent progress that has been made in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.’
Dr Kate Holmes, of Prostate Cancer UK, said ‘Effective treatments for men in the final stages of the disease have been lacking for far too long.
‘Should this drug go on to be licensed, it could provide a welcome addition to the available treatments for men with this form of the disease.’