New hopes for prostate cancer sufferers
A major trial shows prostate cancer sufferers can survive for almost two years longer, if they are given chemotherapy earlier
Men with advanced prostate cancer can live almost two years longer if they are given chemotherapy earlier, a major trial has found.
Charities said the findings were “potentially game-changing” and could significantly extend the lives of thousands of men with the disease.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men.
If cancer spreads, men can be given hormone treatment to reduce testosterone levels. Chemotherapy is normally only given “as a last resort” if such efforts fail.
But the new research suggests that providing men with chemotherapy as soon as cancer spreads beyond the prostate can extend life by an average of 22 months.
The trial involved almost 3,000 men, around 60 per cent of whom had disease which had spread outside the prostate. The remainder had high risk locally advanced cancer.
The study found that when docetaxel chemotherapy was given to those with locally advanced cancer, they survived an average of six years and five months – ten months longer than those who were not given such drugs.
When chemotherapy was given to those with cancer which had spread outside the prostate, the men survived an average of five years and five months.
By comparison, those who were not given the combined treatment lived for just three years seven months, the study found.
The full findings will be presented at a major cancer conference in Chicago later this month.
Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK said: “The findings of this trial are potentially game-changing – we can’t wait to see the full results.
“Chemotherapy is currently one of the last resort treatments for advanced prostate cancer. If it is shown to have a much greater impact on survival when prescribed earlier and alongside hormone therapy, that’s incredibly exciting, and we would want to see this brought in to the clinic so it can benefit men without delay.”
Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “These important trial results show that using docetaxel chemotherapy together with hormone therapy could give men with newly-diagnosed prostate cancer, which has spread to other parts of the body, almost two years longer to live.”
“Chemotherapy isn’t suitable for everyone, but all men who are well enough and who have prostate cancer which has spread, should be offered this combination of treatments,” he said.
Professor Malcolm Mason of Cardiff University, one of the senior investigators on the study, said he hoped the findings led to swift changes in clinical practice, with men offered chemotherapy as soon as disease was found to have spread.
Lead study author Professor Nicholas James, Director of the Cancer Research Unit at the University of Warwick, said: “We hope our findings will encourage doctors to offer docetaxel to men newly diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, if they are healthy enough for chemotherapy. “
Professor James, a consultant in clinical oncology at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, said men with local advanced cancer should also be offered the treatment, as it was clear that it delayed relapse.
Peter Paul Yu, President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), where full findings will be presented, said: “This is the biggest trial of its kind and strongly suggests that adding chemotherapy to standard hormone therapy can extend the lives of men with advanced prostate cancer.”