Breakthrough of prostate cancer: New treatment to ‘look for and destroy’ tumors could prevent chemotherapy
Prostate cancer breakthrough: new treatment to ‘look for and destroy’ tumors can extend the lifespan of thousands of patients
- Breakthrough PSMA radiotherapy treatment is now privately available in the UK
- Experts from the American Society of Clinical Oncology said that treatment gives hope
- Considered the most promising new treatment for prostate cancer in 15 years, it could help at least 5,000 men a year if made available on the NHS
A radical ‘search and destroy’ treatment can prolong the lives of thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer.
The approach – described by experts as “game changing” – uses high-tech molecules to detect tumors everywhere in the body and to blow them with a radioactive charge.
The breakthrough of “PSMA” radiotherapy became available privately for the first time last week in Britain – with two men already being treated.
Thousands are expected to benefit more if the ongoing trials come back with positive results, which are the key to NHS approval.
The breakthrough “PSMA” radiotherapy is available privately for the first time last week in Britain – two men have already been treated
Experts at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Congress in Chicago said the treatment offered hope for men for whom all other options were gone. Without this, they are simply referred for end-of-life palliative care.
Considered the most promising new treatment for prostate cancer in 15 years, it could help at least 5,000 men a year if it were available on the NHS.
Australian oncologist Arun Azad, who is testing the treatment on 200 men in one of the ten studies taking place around the world, said: “The game may change.
“If the results are positive, this will really change the landscape of how we treat prostate cancer.”
Man, 77, who became the first prostate cancer patient in the UK to receive the “seek and destroy” treatment, greets it as “fantastic”
When Hans Schaupp was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer seven years ago, he was determined to continue life.
“I am still working and driving my business,” said the 77-year-old who owns an equestrian equipment company that he runs from his home near Liphook, Hampshire.
Hans Schaupp, 77, was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer seven years ago
A little over a week ago, Mr Schaupp, the first person in the United Kingdom who was treated with the ‘seek and destroy PSMA’ radiotherapy treatment, left.
“It was fantastic,” he said. “Because it is focused, it makes so much sense. Instead of poisoning your entire body with chemotherapy, it goes straight to the tumors. I feel absolutely perfect. No side effects, nothing. “
Mr. Schaupp, whose treatment is partly funded by his BUPA insurance, said: “If it works great then. It is really a fantastic treatment and it is great that it is now available here. ”
Dr. Azad, associate professor at the Peter Mac Cancer Center in Melbourne, said that about half of the 10,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in Britain every year could benefit from the treatment.
And ultimately he wants to give it to patients at an earlier stage of the disease – possibly opening it up to thousands more men.
The Daily Mail is campaigning for an urgent improvement of treatments and diagnosis of prostate cancer, which is years behind other diseases such as breast cancer. Despite rapid progress with other types of cancer, which have led to falling mortality rates, the prostate rate is rising, with 11,800 men in the UK dying every year from the disease.
Annually, around 15,000 men with prostate cancer receive traditional radiotherapy. But that kind of radiotherapy is only used for early, low-risk diseases – when the cancer is still in the prostate – and it comes with serious side effects because it also radiates healthy tissue.
Once the cancer has left the prostate, it spreads through the body, making it impossible to treat with external radiation.
The new treatment focuses on a protein on the surface of prostate cancer cells called PSMA or “prostate-specific membrane antigen”.
The treatment contains a molecule, known as PSMA-617, which seeks out and binds PSMA. The molecule also carries a “useful charge” – a nuclear isotope called Lutetium-177 – that provides a powerful beam of radiotherapy.
Crucial is that radiotherapy only covers 1 mm – so only prostate cells are damaged and healthy tissue is spared.
Professor Johann de Bono from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, who is leading another study of PSMA radiotherapy, said: “It’s a huge problem. It is one of the following great things. “
A pilot study with 50 men in Australia has shown that the treatment extends the life expectancy of men with advanced prostate cancer from nine months to an average of 13.3 months. But one fifth of the patients responded exceptionally well – and still lived after 33 months.
Paul Villanti, from the Movember Cancer Foundation, who finances several studies, said: “PSMA is one of the most exciting areas in prostate cancer research. It gives us the opportunity to find and destroy cancer. “
The Australian company Genesis Care has begun offering treatment at its clinic in Windsor. Most men receive between two and six treatments, spread out every six weeks. Individually it costs from £ 12,000 to £ 13,000 per treatment.
Thousands are expected to benefit more if the ongoing trials come back with positive results, which are the key to NHS approval. Stock photo
Early use of a hormone medicine improves the chances of survival of men with aggressive prostate cancer and can reduce the number of deaths from the disease by almost a third
Early use of an advanced hormone drug dramatically improves the chances of survival of men with aggressive prostate cancer, a study found.
Taking enzalutamide shortly after diagnosis reduces the risk of dying within three years, according to data presented at the world’s largest cancer conference yesterday.
The treatment – taken as four daily pills – is already available on the NHS for men with advanced prostate cancer, but only after they have stopped responding to standard hormone injections.
The new study found that giving the £ 33,000-per-year drug at the same time as the injections – rather than waiting for them to fail – slowed tumor progression and reduced mortality rates by nearly a third.
Up to 10,000 men with terminal cancer can benefit from early access to treatment in the UK every year. It can also delay the need for chemotherapy.
Professor Ian Davis of Monash University in Australia presented the data at the conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and said: “The survival benefit is considerably greater if it is achieved earlier than later. You get much more for your money. “
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, included 1,125 patients with advanced prostate cancer. Researchers discovered that the chance of dying within three years was 20 percent if they received enzalutamide in addition to standard treatment.
But for those who only received standard treatment, the risk of death was 28 percent.
Enzalutamide works by preventing testosterone – which stimulates cancer growth – from being absorbed by tumors. It is sold by Astellas under the brand name Xtandi.
Dr. Matthew Hobbs of Prostate Cancer UK said: “This is a positive study that demonstrates the benefit of giving enzalutamide in advance to men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.
“Enzalutamide is now the third treatment option in four years and has a substantial impact on life expectancy when used with hormone therapy.
“Some men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer cannot receive chemotherapy, we want to make another treatment option available to them.”
Prostate cancer affects around 47,000 men a year in the UK – killing 11,800.