July 22, 2008

New Prostate Cancer Drug Breakthrough

MEN who expect to die from prostate cancer have been offered new hope by a drug which could represent the biggest step forward in treating the disease in 60 years.

A preliminary trial has shown that abiraterone can reverse even the most aggressive, resistant and deadly cancers.

Doctors believe it could potentially prolong the lives of up to 10,000 British men each year.

Between 70% and 80% of ill men treated with the drug have shown improvements.

In between 20% and 30% of cases patients have experienced dramatic falls in PSA - the blood marker used to test for prostate cancer - and surpassed their expectations of survival.

Research on abiraterone has led to a complete re-think about the way advanced prostate cancer is driven. Sixty years ago scientists discovered that male hormones fuelled the disease.

This led to the development of treatments which blocked the effect of male hormones.

For decades it was believed that when tumours stopped responding to these treatments they no longer needed the hormones to survive. Patients were then said to have hormone refractory prostate cancer.

The effectiveness of abiraterone shows this assumption was wrong and even apparently unstoppable cancers are hormone-driven.

Dr Gerhardt Attard, one of the scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton, Surrey said: "Time will be our judge, but we're very excited about this."

Abiraterone could be made available on the NHS in three years.

(c) 2008 Evening Chronicle - Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.