A breakthrough triple therapy for advanced prostate cancer can give patients years more healthy life and reduces the overall risk of death by a third.
The regimen involves two standard therapies alongside a powerful new hormone medication, darolutamide.
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The new drug has already proved to be effective as a standalone treatment in the earlier stages of the disease, when given to men who have stopped responding to other medications.
But a pivotal trial has now shown that when combined with standard therapies it also has a dramatic effect in patients whose cancer has spread throughout the body.
Although a cure isn’t possible for these men, using darolutamide, chemotherapy and other hormone medicines reduced pain, slowed the progression of the disease and extended survival.
The men on the trial were mostly in their late 60s, although one patient was 89.
Those given the new combination therapy went for four years before their cancer began to progress, while in patients given the standard treatments alone their cancer worsened after just six months.
Professor Alison Birtle, consultant clinical oncologist at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, called the advance ‘exciting’.
She added: “We’ve never had the option of a triple therapy like this before”.
For those men with earlier-stage disease, surgery is typically offered to remove the prostate – and tumour within – in the hope of a cure.
If they reject surgery, which men often do as the procedure can lead to incontinence and erectile dysfunction, they are offered drugs to limit the amount of the male hormone testosterone they produce, which prostate cancers use to grow.
Darolutamide works by binding to tumour cells, preventing testosterone from reaching them.
The new trial showed it also has a remarkable effect on those who may once have been considered lost causes.
A total of 1,306 newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients were split into two groups.
Both were given the chemotherapy drug docetaxel and a standard testosterone-limiting therapy, but one group was given additional darolutamide, while the other was given placebo, or dummy tablets.
In the group given darolutamide there was a 32 per cent reduced risk of death and a 65 per cent increase in progression-free survival – the time before the disease begins to advance again.
One patient to have benefited from the triplet treatment is father-of-three and grandfather-of-nine Roger Downes, 78.
He said: “The cancer has disappeared from my pelvis and I’m told my PSA levels [a chemical released in high levels by the prostate when diseased] are normal. Now I wake up and think, today is another good day.I take two pills every morning and two before bed. I play bowls, I walk a lot and I feel healthy.” Mail Online