July 24, 2008

Prostate Cancer Patients in Gloucestershire Welcome New Drug

By Phil Skelton Health reporter

Prostate cancer patients in Gloucestershire have welcomed news of a new drug to treat an aggressive form of the disease.

Abiraterone has been developed to fight prostate cancer, which kills 9,000 men in England and Wales every year, according to the NHS.

Preliminary trials have shown that the drug can reverse even the most aggressive cancers in up to 80 per cent of cases.

It works by blocking the hormones which fuel the cancer.

The Institute of Cancer Research hopes a pill form will be available in two to three years.

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

Lead researcher Dr Johann de Bono, said: "We believe we have made a major step forward in the treatment of end-stage prostate cancer patients.

"These men have aggressive prostate cancer which is difficult to treat and almost always proves to be fatal.

"We hope that Abiraterone will eventually offer them real hope of an effective way of managing their condition and prolonging their lives."

The treatment is a move away from traditional methods that work by stopping the testicles from producing testosterone.

Experts have now discovered that the cancer can feed on sex hormones from all sources, including supplies of the hormone produced by the tumour itself.

Air Vice Marshall Tony Marshall, chairman of the Gloucestershire Prostate Cancer Trust, welcomed the news but warned of a wait.

He said: "The development of this new drug is very encouraging albeit a long way off.

"It's encouraging in the longer term but this means men must continue to be aware of their own systems and reinforces the work that the oncology unit at Cheltenham General Hospital is doing."

John Neate, chief executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, added: "Advanced prostate cancer is difficult to treat as, after a length of time, it stops responding to conventional ways of controlling the male hormone, testosterone, essential to the cancer's continued growth."

According to the charity, the disease is most prevalent in men above the age of 50.

If an immediate male relative has had the disease you are two- and-a-half times more likely to get it.

There are also theories that a diet high in saturated animal fat could put men at greater risk.

(c) 2008 Gloucestershire Echo, The. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.