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Charity: Prostate cancer drug 'offers vital lifeline'

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.

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Health watchdog approves prostate cancer drug

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.

Nice said in its draft guidance that it was pleased to recommend the life-extending drug. Credit: ITV News

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Nice said in its draft guidance that it was pleased to recommend the drug, which is manufactured by Astellas Pharma, for patients who have few other treatment options left.

Cancer Research calls for better prostate cancer tests

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 'given false hope' by tests

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.

Men with prostate cancer 'given false hope', new study suggests. Credit: PA

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.

How scientists found a new test for prostate cancer

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.
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