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Prostate cancer patients' charity Tackle has welcomed health watchdog Nice's draft approval of making a life-extending drug available on the NHS.
A spokesman for the charity said:
This offers a vital lifeline to thousands of men facing death sentences due to the very limited options for treatment if chemotherapy has failed.
Enzalutamide has shown great success treating men with advanced prostate cancer beyond the stage at which conventional hormone treatment or docetaxel chemotherapy is effective.
Health officials have given a life-extending drug the green light for widespread NHS, giving hope to thousands of men facing a "death sentence" from prostate cancer.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said the drug enzalutamide, also known as xtandi, should be considered for use in the treatment of men with hormone relapsed prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
Nice said in its draft guidance that it was pleased to recommend the drug, which is manufactured by Astellas Pharma, for patients who have few other treatment options left.
Better tests to define how aggressive a prostate cancer is needed, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute said, after it was reported that more than half of a group of men whose cancers were initially classified as slow-growing and confined turned out to have more dangerous tumours.
Urological surgeon Greg Shaw said:
This highlights the urgent need for better tests to define how aggressive a prostate cancer is from the outset, building on diagnostic tests like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans, and new biopsy techniques which help to more accurately define the extent of the prostate cancer.
This would then enable us to counsel patients with more certainty whether the prostate cancer identified is suitable for active surveillance or not.
Whilst active surveillance would seem to be a safe approach for some men, nearly a third will end up needing surgery or radiotherapy within five years.
Men with prostate cancer are being given false hope by tests that underestimate the aggressiveness of their disease, a study suggests.
Researchers found that more than half of a group of men whose cancers were initially classified as slow-growing and confined turned out to have more dangerous tumours.
The findings, published in the British Journal Of Cancer, call into question the ability of experts to grade and stage prostate cancers on the basis of biopsy samples.
It also casts doubt on the "active surveillance" strategy of avoiding unnecessary radical treatment for patients with slow-growing prostate cancer.
Instead, these patients are often closely monitored but left alone until tests suggest their condition has worsened.
In order to develop a new DNA test that can identify men at high risk of recurring prostate cancer, scientists analysed biopsy tissue samples taken from 126 treated men with the disease who were thought to be at intermediate risk of their cancer returning.
- Researchers then looked at each patient's whole genetic code, searching for missing, extra, or irregular sections of DNA so they could identify signature patterns linked to a high or low risk of recurring cancer
- The test was used to predict outcomes for a second group of 150 patients who had their prostate tumours removed by surgery.
- A secondary study found that tumours affected by hypoxia - starved of oxygen - were most associated with worse survival
- Men with low levels of genetic changes and low hypoxia had the best outcomes, with 93% lasting five years without their cancer recurring
- Only 49% of men with high levels of genetic alterations and high hypoxia escaped a cancer recurrence for five years.
A new DNA test can identify men at high risk of recurring prostate cancer with almost 80% accuracy, say scientists.
The biopsy test singles out patients likely to relapse after surgery or radiotherapy by looking for specific genetic changes at 100 sites in DNA.
Researchers from the University of Toronto, Canada, believe the "genetic signature" test will help doctors determine which patients need extra help after initial treatment.
Professor Robert Bristow, lead scientist, said: "Existing methods for identifying high risk patients are imperfect, so new tests are required that are better at predicting which patients will have their cancer recur.
"These men can then be offered additional treatments, such as chemo and hormone therapy, that will combat the prostate cancer throughout their entire body, rather than therapies solely focused on the prostate, in order to improve their chances of survival.
"This is the first report of a test using information derived from biopsy samples that can predict with close to 80% accuracy which men are at high or low risk of their prostate cancer recurring."
Vitamin E and selenium pills are putting men at significantly increased risk of prostate cancer, a group of US scientists has warned in findings published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
These supplements are popular - especially vitamin E - although so far no large, well-designed and well-conducted study has shown any benefits for preventing major chronic disease.
Men using these supplements should stop, period. Neither selenium nor vitamin E supplementation confers any known benefits, only risks...
We know from several other studies that some high-dose dietary supplements - that is, supplements that provide far more than the daily recommended intakes of micronutrients - increase cancer risk.
Men have been warned not to take a pair of popular vitamin and mineral supplements after research showed they can dramatically increase the risk of life-threatening prostate cancer.
Overdosing on the mineral selenium by taking supplements raises the chances of developing high-grade cancer by 91%, US scientists have found.
Vitamin E pills also boosted the risk of aggressive cancer, more than doubling it for men lacking selenium, according to researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle.
The researchers believe selenium can turn toxic when present in the body at excessively high levels.
Nice's decision to withhold a breakthrough prostate cancer drug is a "cruel twist" as it comes "just days" after a study confirmed its success, campaigners have said.
Prostate Cancer UK called on Nice, who vet the cost effectiveness of medicine for NHS patients, to change its "post-chemo" policy on new drugs.
Enzalutamide is already licensed for those who've had chemotherapy but this trial will hopefully establish a robust base of evidence to demonstrate that it should be available beforehand.
This is good news but sadly won't help the one man an hour who dies of prostate cancer at present.
We need to see drugs like enzalutamide available sooner rather than later, and so it's a cruel twist that this study comes just days after Nice ruled out the drug for men who have already had chemotherapy and the only other drug available at this stage, abiraterone.