One of the largest clinical trials for prostate cancer has given “powerful results”, say UK researchers. A drug for treating prostate cancer that has spread was found to save lives when offered earlier, a study found. The trial looked at abiraterone as an additional treatment in patients with prostate cancer who were about to start long-term hormone therapy. Abiraterone improved survival, according to results published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Prof Nicholas James, from the University of Birmingham, who led the research, said: “These are the most powerful results I’ve seen from a prostate cancer trial – it’s a once-in-a-career feeling. “This is one of the biggest reductions in death I’ve seen in any clinical trial for adult cancers.”
Abiraterone, also known as Zytiga, is a hormone therapy. Unlike chemotherapy which kills the cancerous cells, it stops more testosterone from reaching the prostate gland to stifle the tumour’s growth. The trial involved almost 2,000 patients. Half the men were treated with hormone therapy while the other half received hormone therapy and abiraterone. Of the 1,917 men in the trial, there were 184 deaths in the combination group compared with 262 in those given hormone therapy alone. Prof James added: “Abiraterone is already used to treat some men whose disease has spread but our results show many more could benefit.” Each year around 46,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK, and around 11,000 men die from the disease. The results of the trial were presented at the 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago and published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Saturday.